Cultural factors in the Media Industry

In order for television to connect to an audience, programmes and characters must reflect current cultural morals and values. Television acts like a mirror to society that can discuss personal and taboo issues. Television has the power to influence society and its social views. If a viewer doesn’t relate to a programme they will switch off so as a producer it is important the programmes I am producing are relevant to society at that time. Being disabled, I know firsthand about topics that are represented in a certain way due to stigma. According to Creative Skillset, only 5% of  the TV workforce consider themselves to have a disability. I want to change this.

Channel 4 were one of the first TV channels to take a stand for disabled employees. They made 2016 the ‘Year of disability’ and rolled out the 360° diversity charter that I was able to work with during my time at Channel 4. The diversity remit ensures diversity is shown across programmes on screen and behind the scenes. Channel 4’s diversity charter is a very important tool for me as it gives me the confidence to succeed in the industry and shows me I can get a job and there is a place for me.

During my time at Channel 4 in February 2016, I was able to use my experience as a disabled person to influence others about the needs of disabled people at events or in the Media industry. I sat in on a meeting with disabled activists SCOPE (February 16th 2016) to discuss why there is a lack of disabled people employed in the Media Industry. I used my personal experiences to help them to understand that the stigma surrounding disabled people means that disabled people don’t think they will ever be employed in such an industry so don’t even apply. This meeting inspired me so much; I used the theme ‘disability in the Media Industry’ throughout many of my projects.

Technological Factors and how they affect me.

As a producer in any genre of Broadcast Media, it’s essential for me to keep up to date with changes in society and culture that impact the industry. For me, the most important trend that has evolved, that has significantly changed viewing habits, is the rise of digital media and technological advances. Technological advances affect Producers because trends such as smartphones, social media and streaming services have all contributed to changes in how we view content so these factors can affect the production budget. Due to my experience with disability, I can also take technological advances for disabled people into consideration such as how would disabled people benefit? and would they get the same experience as everyone else? I looked at OFCOM to see what services are currently avialable to disabled people on our TV’s now to ensure I take these needs into consideration in future work.

To further my knowledge of how technical advances impact viewing habits, I attended a workshop on VR (Video Recording) and 360° video shooting at the RTS careers fair, February 2017. I was intrigued to learn about different types of shooting cameras and how certain programs have a certain look to them. I learnt about current trends such as drones, 360° cameras (that can have as many as 24 cameras on one device), HD, HDR (High Dynamic range) and 4K and looked at how they give different viewing experiences. How a camera is moved is important for content and audience. An audience must connect to what is being viewed. BAFTA have even included a VR award to their categories in order to keep up to date with current trends in society. From this workshop I realized there was so much more I needed to learn about television and it’s future. As a producer I must always consider new trends and experiences for the audience but also remember the importance of social interaction. I should always be familiar with current audience research and aware of issues and gaps in the current market, whether that be technological gaps, editorial or genre. Television is still an important platform, and will remain so for years to come, but it will not be as dominant as it once was in the twentieth century.

Notes taken from the workshops that have helped expand my knowledge on technology advances can be viewed here.

Economic Factors

In the Children’s Television Producer course and the Production management course, (February 2017) I learnt how there was a need for employees in this sector as the pay is considerably lower in children’s TV due to the fact that children’s TV productions do not get the same budget as drama. This knowledge is essential to me as I now know not to expect the same salary for the same job and expect the roles and workload to be completely different from drama or documentary. Ideas in children’s TV will be much more simplistic and cheaply done. However starting my career in children’s TV could be a good starting point to learn necessary industry skills.  I found this particularly interesting on the future of children’s television as it will make a significant different to the future industry. Having learnt children’s television has smaller budgets, I asked Addie Orfila, (Production management course 2017) to guide me to information for program tariffs for different channels.  Having read commissioning guidelines that are available to the public online, I learnt that the BBC has the biggest budgets and Channel 4 the smallest due to its public domain. I looked at the Documentary and drama genres  and now have an idea the amount of money each channel allows for a film to be made. Sky do not have tariffs. They pay for what they deem is good TV.  Tariffs can be viewed below:

BBC Program Tariffs         ITV Program Tariffs         Channel 5 Program Tariffs

C4 Tariffs
Channel 4 Commissioning guidelines.

This information will be useful to me as a practitioner as budgets must be accurate and not underestimated otherwise problems will persist.  On the Production management course, February 2017, we did an estimated budget for the script we were working with. Doing this task developed my knowledge of how much, each area of production costs and showed me exactly why costs cannot be underestimated or areas missed out. If your production is under budget then you might not be giving the production it’s full potential due to saving costs early on. Its better to be over budget than under budget


budget 2
Designing an ‘estimated’ budget list for the script we produced on the Production management course 2017.

I discovered that as a Producer its good to keep an ideas book as ideas are the hardest things to get commissioned. No idea is out of date, it just might not be the right time to be brought to life.

Working as a Freelancer

I realise that my career will include freelance work. Adrian Johnson, (Children’s TV Producer course, February 2017) told me freelancers rarely work for 12 months of a year. A successful freelancer works 9 months a year tops. The report compiled by Creative Skillset says more freelancers are disabled than studio employees suggesting to me that either disabled people are not getting interviews or they are not getting jobs in studios due to their disability.

Joining the BECTU student registry, I was able to access rates of pay so as a freelance employee I will know whether I am being paid right or charging enough for my expertise. As I am starting as a runner, I researched Runner rates of pay so I know what to expect.

As a freelancer, I am responsible for the paying of my own tax to comply with the law. I found this BECTU Tax guide really useful as a beginners guide to paying your own tax. I also found this information useful. However I am still not overly certain on how to set up a tax code and what else to do as I am not currently earning anything to be considered as a self employed freelancer. The next steps are to investigate further into self employment with a meeting with my bank or a business advisor. The only advice I have received about freelancers from both Adrian and Addie (Producer’s & Production management course 2017) is to ensure I put money aside each month ready to pay tax at the end of the tax year!