U.K. broadcasters have published a 15-page set of industry guidelines for TV production to get back up and running safely.
The measures have been set out to provide a framework for producers to help them risk assess before going into production.
ITV, BBC, Sky, Channel 4, Channel 5, STV, ITN, the Association for Commercial Broadcasters and On-Demand Services (COBA) and U.K. producers trade body Pact joined forces to introduce the new industry-wide guidelines for producing television safely.
Titled “TV Production Guidance: Managing the risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Production Making,” the guidance covers the broad range and scale of all TV programme making in every genre for TV.
The guidance is complementary to protocols being developed by the British Film Commission on managing the risks associated with film and high-end TV drama production.
The guidance details six areas that producers, in conjunction with the commissioning broadcaster, must consider when planning to produce during COVID-19. They are: specifically consider people at higher risk of harm; heighten precautions for everyone at work; reduce the number of people involved; consider editorial ‘on camera’ requirements; consider mental health and wellbeing; and institute a feedback loop.
The guidance also lays out the key areas to consider when assessing risk on productions and suggests controls to consider. They are:
Travel: Try to minimise travel and follow social distancing principles within travel arrangements, wherever possible.
Location: Consider the physical capacity of the space given the requirements of social distancing along with the provision of key hygiene facilities.
Work Activities: Consider the activities that people are going to need to undertake across roles on production and if these can be adapted or changed to reduce risk.
Work Equipment: Work equipment is key to TV production from cameras and headsets to edit suites. Good hygiene and managing potential issues with touchpoints should be addressed.
Work Patterns: Work patterns may enable you to have small groups (cohorts) of people who don’t come into contact with other groups.
Rest Areas: Rest areas are very important but may need some reconfiguration and planning around breaks to ensure rest areas are as safe as possible.
First Aid and Emergency services: Emergency services are under great pressure so may not be able to respond as quickly as possible. Alongside this COVID-19 poses a potential risk to first aiders.
Masks, Gloves and Other Personal Protective Equipment: Use of PPE is very much a last resort and should only be considered when all other forms of control have been considered and/or implemented. It would not in general be appropriate to source medical grade PPE. The very limited exceptions to this might be when filming in higher COVID-19 risk settings such as hospitals which would only be at the invitation of the relevant hospital authorities.
Mental Health: The COVID-19 risk and the response has had a potential Mental Health impact for those working on productions
The guidance has been produced through industry collaboration along with external input provided by Dr Paul Litchfield CBE. The broadcasters have also worked with First Option, safety consultants to the media and entertainment industry, as well as liaising with union representatives and the Health and Safety Executive.
It is expected that the guidance will evolve over the coming months as the lockdown is eased, as government advice evolves and as TV productions adapt to the new challenges posed by the Covid-19 risk.
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “Great British television is keeping us company throughout the crisis, and I’m keen to get cameras rolling as soon as it is safe. Our creative industries are Britain’s global calling card and this is a significant step forward in getting our favourite shows back into production.”
ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “Working with partners across the industry, and with the support of DCMS, we have created clear guidelines to give producers a framework within which they can ensure that their production is safe.”
Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, said: “Everyone across the TV industry wants to get production back up and running. Recent weeks have shown just how important shows are to the public. But we can only move forward with the right safety measures in place. This guidance is an attempt to get that right. Clearly we will keep it under review. We have, as an industry, already learnt a lot about how we can deliver programmes and we will all put that into practice.”
John McVay, Pact CEO, said: “This guidance from all the major commissioning broadcasters in the UK is a very helpful first step to getting the industry back working and taking forward the recovery.”