Friday 8th December 2017



EITF and 5 News conducted an anonymous, industry-wide survey to better understand how prevalent bullying and harassment is within television.

A total of 315 people completed the 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.

The results showed that a shocking 71% have experienced bullying at work with 65% reporting that it took place in the office and 22% on set or location. Of those reporting as victims of bullying, 78% are female and 22% male and 38% are from indie sector, 31% are freelancers, 17% broadcasters, 14% other. 68% of those surveyed didn’t report it, 78% of which 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.”

Meanwhile 54% of people have experienced sexual harassment at work, 84% of whom didn’t report it. Of those, 88% are female and 12% male and 43% are from indie sector, 30% are freelancers, 10% broadcasters, 22% other.  68% also admitted to being aware of bullying and sexual harassment happening to others at work. Alarmingly 62% of those who had experienced sexual harassment reported it had taken place in the last five years.

In a special debate, hosted by the Edinburgh International TV Festival and ITN, and supported by 5 News, journalist and broadcaster Sian Williams will be joined by TV presenter Anna Richardson, 5 News editor Rachel Corp, chief executive at UKTV Darren Childs, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology Dr Afroditi Pina and former High Court Judge, Dame Janet Smith, as they examine the practical steps both organisations and individuals can take to deal with inappropriate behaviour, particularly bullying and intimidation – in the workplace, out of hours and on location.

Expert HR advice will be provided by Karl Burnett, VP Human Resources at A&E Networks and former director of HR at BBC News and Radio.

Sian Williams said: “The abuse of power is one of the most important issues facing society today. We’ve already seen how prevalent and systemic this type of behaviour has been in other creative sectors, so it is vitally important that we now turn the spotlight onto the television industry here in the UK.”

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

Proper regulation is paramount, 65% were unsure or didn’t have faith in their employer to deal with any issues, and 70% were unsure or not aware at all with the grievance process. Some comments reflected this:

“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.”

90% 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.”

Please credit any stories with: EITF/5 News ‘TV: A Culture of Abuse survey’ 2017.

For more press information please contact Plank PR on 020 8995 3936.


Information for Editors:

As a Festival and a charity, the Edinburgh International Television Festival is committed to helping young people from all backgrounds gain access to the TV

Industry. It runs two young talent schemes, Ones to Watch and The Network.

Both schemes aim to ensure that the people working in television are as diverse as the audience watching it.

Survey: Full Results

Understanding rights

Extent of bullying in TV

Taking action

Why do the majority not report it?

Extent of sexual harassment in TV

Taking action

Recent or historic abuse

Faith in employer to deal with these issues?

Familiar with grievance process?

Aware of bullying/sexual harassment happening to others at work?