BBC Overhauls Bullying And Sexual Harassment Guidelines On Set

BBC

EXCLUSIVE: The BBC has overhauled its guidelines for dealing with bullying and sexual harassment on set in light of “recent revelations” in the TV and film industries.

Deadline has seen an email sent by BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore to dozens of UK indies, which tasked producers on all new shows with confirming they have a suitable “respect at work policy”, naming at least one safeguarding contact and requiring all cast and crew to complete anti-bullying and harassment training before the cameras roll.

The blanket policy will cover all genres and is an update on the previous policy.

According to the BBC memo, contact details for support helplines should be made available on all call sheets, and, where filming involves scenes of an intimate nature, an intimacy coach should be engaged.

Producers were told to contact their commissioning editor or genre director if they have “serious concerns about behaviour on a production.”

Where shows had already entered production, indies were told to “introduce the [new guidelines] where still practical.”

Looking long-term, Moore said the BBC is “working with employers and organisations across the industry to implement broader measures to prevent unacceptable behaviours.”

“Like you, we find the recent revelations of bullying and sexual harassment within our industry totally unacceptable,” said Moore’s email, which was sent to the indies the BBC works with several weeks ago.

“We are in active discussions with many of you as to how we can work together to create a more inclusive and respectful culture for everyone. We are updating our guidance and introducing the following steps for all new commissions to bring about a consistent standard of best practice across all our productions.”

Internally, the BBC abides by an Anti Bullying And Harassment Policy which explains how to formally address issues and how employees can access support. According to the BBC’s latest Annual Report, there were  58 bullying and four sexual harassment cases last year, of which 48 were closed, nine ongoing and five were withdrawn.

Moore’s email was sent a few months after the revelations in UK national The Guardian about Bulletproof star Noel Clarke, who was accused of inappropriate behaviour by 20 women, accusations that he denies.

Overcoming bullying, sexual harassment and wellbeing issues has since been placed front and centre of the UK industry’s priority list.

An app called Call It was recently forged by a group of freelancers to log anonymous complaints and, last week, The Film & TV Charity launched a 12-month campaign to tackle mental health challenges facing the industry, which was backed by Moore and other UK broadcasting heavyweights.

Meanwhile, broadcasting union Bectu and producer trade body Pact are currently negotiating over working conditions in the drama space, negotiations that Bectu members have accused Pact of repeatedly delaying.

The BBC did not have comment to add beyond the initial email.

The email in full

Hello

Like you, we find the recent revelations of bullying and sexual harassment within our industry totally unacceptable. And we are in active discussions with many of you as to how we can work together to create a more inclusive and respectful culture for everyone.

As both a producer and commissioner of content we are fully committed to ensuring that everyone working on a production for the BBC feels safe and knows how to get support if they need it.

So today we are updating our guidance and introducing the following steps for all new commissions to bring about a consistent standard of best practice across all our productions:

  • All producers will need to confirm they have a suitable policy that covers respect at work before a commission. This will include processes for those working on a production to raise concerns or complaints and set out how it will be managed. The policy will be communicated to everyone contracted on and off screen before the element of production they are engaged in begins.
  • All productions must have at least one named senior safeguarding contact (larger productions may need more). This person/people must be:
  • Suitably trained
  • A senior member of the production team
  • Clearly identified to cast and crew as someone they can approach if they have concerns
  • Someone who takes responsibility for pro-actively making any adjustments in order to maintain a safe and comfortable environment
  • All cast and crew must complete anti-bullying & harassment training before production starts.  If your company does not already provide this – free online training is available through ScreenSkills.
  • Contact details for support helplines, safeguarding contacts, and whistle blowing lines if applicable should be put on all call sheets, production information and displayed in communal areas. This should include a link to the respect at work page on our website which outlines our expectations.
  • Where filming involves scenes of an intimate nature – an intimacy coach must be engaged.

For existing commissions, we’re asking producers to introduce any of the above where still practical, if they are not already in place.

You can find more information and resources for producers on our website and the changes have been updated in our commissioning specification.

Reporting concerns or complaints

If a company has any serious concerns about behaviour on a production for the BBC, you should contact your BBC Commissioning Editor or Genre Director as soon as possible.  The BBC cannot conduct an investigation into a complaint ourselves, as we are not the engager/employer, but we can point you towards other sources of advice or information and agree next steps, as appropriate.

If an individual working on a production for the BBC wants to raise a concern about bullying or harassment, which cannot be dealt with by their employer – for instance, repeated behaviour across multiple production companies, or where there may be an internal conflict – they can contact BBC Respect at Work to bring it our attention. Our commitment to make sure people are treated with respect, extends to the way we work with producers ourselves. Anyone who wants to raise a concern about the behaviour of a BBC employee can also contact the same address.

In addition to the immediate changes we have announced today, we are also working with employers and organisations across the industry to implement broader measures to prevent unacceptable behaviours and achieve long term sustainable improvements.  We will be in touch as this work progresses.

I hope that together we can achieve meaningful change to make our industry a safer, more inclusive place for everyone.

With all best wishes,

Charlotte Moore

Chief Content Officer

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