Written by Kianna Best on Feb 28, 2024. Posted in General Interest

Bectu reports UK film and TV industry crisis

UK screen sector union Bectu are calling for government intervention for the crisis within the film and TV industry. With the release of their report yesterday 27 February, from a poll of 4,000 individuals, 68% are currently not working and 75% are facing severe mental health implications. This survey follows the 2023 look into post-SAG AFTRA strike action resulting in 80% of the UK workforce directly impacted.


Image courtesy of Samantha Borges by Unsplash


Commenting on the report, head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “The time for warm words and platitudes is over. You cannot have a thriving industry without a thriving and properly supported workforce, and we hope this report is the alarm bell the industry needs. Broadcasters and government must act now to halt the exodus of diverse and talented crew and tackle the structural challenges that leave workers feeling isolated, that damage their mental health and devastate their financial security.


“We consistently hear from the Secretary of State and other government officials about how much they value the creative industries. We now call on them to step up, put their money where their mouth is, and take decisive action to protect our much loved and revered film and TV industry, and the workers who make it all happen.”


Of 4,000 responses to the Bectu survey, 30% of screen industry professionals have not had any work at all in the past 3 months. Following the September 2023 poll which saw 80% of respondents claiming to be directly affected by the US SAG AFTA strikes, 58% of the most recent survey still state they have not seen any recovery. From some recorded comments, the Bectu survey respondents have expressed pure shock at the state of the industry as it stands, one unscripted TV producer stating they have “never known a more dire situation in television in twenty years.”


A costume supervisor added: “I am extremely concerned about the younger and more junior members in our department. I have noticed that their financial struggles are quite extreme. To the point some of them cannot afford lunch or rely heavily on work-provided food in order to make up for income shortfalls. It is very disconcerting… there should be more support available directly through productions, not just charities.”


The survey found that from those who have not worked in the past three months, BAME individuals were the majority. Whilst 29% of white respondents had not worked at all, 38% were Asian or British/Asian, 34% of mixed ethnic backgrounds and 32% were black. With responses of concern overt their financial security over the next six months (88%), the industry is seeing an increased impact on mental health, and an increase in the number of individuals planning to leave the industry all together. Of these, women make up 40%, commenting that they are most likely to see themselves working in another industry in the next five years. This is the unfortunate reality for black professionals in the sector also, with 50% planning to leave the industry in the next 5 years in comparison to 37% of their white counterparts.


“I have had to move home. I’ve felt so depressed that a few months ago I attempted taking my own life due to losing where I lived and getting no work,” an assistant script supervisor commented. “I blame the death of the industry through 2023. Working-class people and those without connections and the disabled are hit the worst. I used to do talks to local deprived colleges to encourage kids to go into the industry. I stopped because I can no longer recommend it. It’s structurally broken now. And I fear it will not return.”


In an effort to remedy the dire situation in the screen sector, Bectu are calling on the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer MP to discuss this crisis with urgency. In addition, greater transparency is being demanded from UK broadcasters, as well as implementation of a more predominant focus on equality and diversity. The full report is available HERE.


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