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TV survey: still a culture of abuse

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5 News, EITF, survey results, sexual harassment, bullying, shockingOf the 16 per cent who reported it, 81 per cent said it was not dealt with appropriately/to their satisfaction.

Edinburgh International Television Festival (EITF) and 5 News conducted an anonymous, industry-wide survey recently to better understand how prevalent bullying and harassment is within television.

A total of 315 people completed the ‘TV: A Culture of Abuse survey’, including employees and freelancers from broadcasters and independent production companies, in roles ranging from commissioners and executive producers, to development producers, production managers and series producers.

Shockingly, 54 per cent of the respondents had experienced sexual harassment at work, 84 per cent of whom didn’t report it.

Of those, 88 per cent were female and 12 per cent male and 43 per cent were from indie sector, 30 per cent were freelancers, 10 per cent broadcasters, and 22 per cent ‘other’.

Of the 16 per cent who did report it, 81 per cent said it was not dealt with appropriately/to their satisfaction.

Reasons for not reporting were fear of losing job/negative repercussions in their career which came top with 63 per cent.

Other answers were: Senior figures laughing it off/early in career so accepted it – or it was the company owner/boss.

And 62 per cent of those who had experienced sexual harassment reported that it had taken place in the last five years.

The results also showed that a sickening number – 71 per cent – have experienced bullying at work with 65 per cent reporting that it took place in the office and 22 per cent on set or location.

Of those reporting as victims of bullying, 78 per cent were female and 22 per cent male and 38 per cent were from indie sector, 31 per cent freelancers, 17 per cent broadcasters, and 14 per cent ‘other’.

68 per cent of those surveyed didn’t report it, 78 per cent of them were concerned that if they did, they would lose their job, or it would have negative repercussions on their career.

The survey also included anonymous comments which reflect the realities of the work place:

“The stigma of reporting bad behaviour needs to be removed.

“If anyone (especially junior team members) complain about bullying behaviour/harassment, it is them who are isolated and struggle to find work again, rather than the perpetrator.”

“Freelancing keeps people silent because they fear that today’s bully is tomorrow’s boss.”

And 68 per cent also admitted to being aware of bullying and sexual harassment happening to others at work.

Encouragingly, more than 90 per cent said that they were confident in their knowledge of what constitutes bullying and sexual harassment, but less than half – 47 per cent – understood their rights in respect of taking action at work if confronted with such behaviour.

But 65 per cent were unsure or didn’t have faith in their employer dealing with any issues, and 70 per cent were unsure or not aware at all of the grievance process.

Some comments reflected this too:

“Having worked in many industries prior to my move into TV, never have I been in an industry that is so unregulated on so many levels.”

“Companies are now paying lip service to allegations by having HR departments send out trite emails.

“Meanwhile I can tell you of several senior staff at indies who have been formally reprimanded for bullying but nothing ever happens.”

In addition, 60 per cent did not think or were unsure whether the BBC’s Respect at Work Review, and subsequent debates around bullying, had had any impact on staff or talent behaviour in recent years.

One survey respondent said: “There is no desire to change and I don’t believe recent revelations will affect anything.

“I saw this all before in 2012 and the big circus the BBC put on about investigating, and fundamentally, apart from putting a few heads on a stick for show, nothing changed and nothing will ever change.

“There is no desire for a cultural shift to do the right thing if people can ignore and get away with it.”

Festival Director Lisa Campbell said: “As an industry we pride ourselves on reflecting social issues in our programming, yet the people behind-the-scenes making this content, are suffering themselves and nothing is being done.

“We need to make a change, and talking about these issues is the first step to addressing and stopping them for good.”

The study’s findings were launched at an EITF panel discussion, at which 5 News presenter Sian Williams labelled them as “shocking”.

Former high court judge Dame Janet Smith – who led the Jimmy Savile inquiry – the Guardian reported, said she was “not surprised” by the results.

She added that a major problem was the “culture of fear” which existed across the media world as well as a lack of job security.

Click here to watch the panel discussion.

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