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Following a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic underlined the significant issues faced by freelance workers in the entertainment sector, key players of the British TV industry have come together for a landmark new document.
The Freelance Charter — which was unveiled at the Edinburgh TV Festival — aims to improve the working life of freelancers within the television community and in doing so address the working practices and culture of people across the industry.
Born from the working group Coalition for Change, which was founded by TV freelancer and founder of the TV Mindset organization Adeel Amini, the charter marks the first time in the sector’s history that industry bodies have come together to acknowledge its working practices and formally agree pledges to improve conditions. A “living” document, with Coalition members committed to annual reviews (two in the first year), it offers industry-wide guidance on issues such as recruitment and development, workplace culture, bullying, harassment, commissioner conduct, and training opportunities, with detailed sections on each.
Among those to have signed the charter so far are Amazon Prime Video, the BBC, Sky Content, Channel 4, ViacomCBS/Channel 5, BAFTA, the British Film Institute, UKTV, ScreenSkills, The Film & TV Charity and Women in Film and TV.
“The Freelance Charter is a result of a huge collective effort across the industry to tackle some of the issues faced by our freelance workforce, and it’s encouraging that all involved have embraced both the opportunity and responsibility that we have to make things better for everyone,” said Sky’s managing director, content, for the U.K. and Ireland, Zai Bennett, who led work on the charter alongside Richard Watsham, director of commissioning at UKTV.
“As a living document, the charter gives us all a useful framework to hold ourselves and others accountable, and it is an important first step in working together to improve conditions and create a culture of mutual respect and support.”
Coalition founder Amini added: “The Freelance Charter marks a huge step forward for our industry in acknowledging and tackling the issues faced by its workforce. When we launched the Coalition we stated its aims as three-fold: to professionalize the industry, invest in its talent, and create an ecosystem of respect. While there’s still room for more to be added to the charter, I’m confident that this is the first positive leap in creating a healthier and happier industry for us all and I am exceptionally grateful to all Coalition members for coming together and showing the good this industry can do when it unites as one.”
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