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The TV industry is part of the creative industries, which is represented by Skillset Sector Skills Council. This includes: advertising; animation; computer games; corporate and commercial production; fashion and textiles; film; interactive media; photo imaging; publishing; radio; and television.

The TV industry comprises: terrestrial broadcast TV; cable and satellite broadcasters; independent production companies (indies); and a growing number of community TV companies, which share the analogue spectrum of 18 Restricted Services Licences.
The TV industry is characterised by a small number of large businesses and a large number of small companies. Broadcasters, such as the BBC and BSkyB, dominate the landscape of larger businesses, and increasingly, smaller independent production companies are merging or being bought out by other independent production companies to form much larger businesses, such as RDF Media Group.

Key facts:

  • 55,900 people are employed in the TV industry, which is estimated to be 11% of the creative industries workforce.
  • The TV industry comprises over 1,450 businesses, including:
  • 10 (terrestrial) broadcast TV
  • around 250 cable and satellite broadcasters
  • around 1,100 independent production companies (indies)
  • a growing number of community TV companies
  • More than a third of the workforce is freelance, including 57% of the independent production workforce, 26% in broadcast TV, 12% in cable and satellite and 3% in community TV.
  • Nearly half of the TV workforce has undertaken unpaid work within the creative industries.
  • The TV workforce is highly qualified and a high proportion has media‐related degrees.

Jobs in the industry include:
Art and Design – Art Director
Camera – Script Supervisor, Camera Operator, Camera Assistant, Lighting Camera
Hair and Make‐up – Make‐up & Hair Artist
Journalism and Sport – Broadcast Journalist
Lighting: Lighting Director, Gaffer
Performing – Actor, Presenter, Agent
Production – Director, Producer, Executive Producer, Location Manager, Production Manager, Researcher
Sound – Sound Supervisor, Sound Recordist, Boom Operator
Studio and Broadcast Technology – Transmission Engineer, Vision Mixer

Entry and progression
Routes into the industry are still fairly informal, especially in production. It is usual to start at the bottom and work your way up through the grades, learning your skills on the job. Once in the industry, people do move around and the majority find work through contacts and word of mouth. Many take short‐term courses to maintain their high skill level.

There are no formal entry requirements, although most people do have a degree. Employers value practical hands‐on industry experience, such as a period of work experience. Often, the best entry route is on‐the‐job training and shadowing of experienced personnel.

There are some New Entrant’s Training Schemes. ITV and the BBC sometimes have apprenticeship or training schemes. FT2 run a New Entrant Technical Training Programme, and the Regional Screen Agencies may also run programmes.
For job specific entry requirements, job profiles should be consulted.

Workforce statistics
Number of UK employees: 55,900
Number of UK employers: over 1,450 businesses
Gender: 55% male, 45%female
Age: 35% of the workforce is under 35 years
Ethnicity: 10% of the workforce is from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background
4.3% of the workforce considered themselves to have a disability
71% of the workforce has a degree, of which 46% are media related
Freelancers working in the TV industry are less likely to hold a graduate qualification (66%) than employees in the sector (73%).
More than a third of the workforce is freelance

Employment trends and future prospects
Broadcast Television is going through an extraordinary time of change and challenge with media convergence and globalisation. It is still one of the most popular forms of entertainment and information, with the average British viewer still watching twenty hours or more per week. However, the rapid growth of the internet and interactive media is competing for audiences and revenues, so is a continuing challenge for the industry.
Some of the drivers of change and challenge for the industry are:

  • Faster than predicted growth of broadband in the home and the success of mobile media;
  • Globalisation of the TV and video market;
  • Traditional TV business models challenged by audience fragmentation and move of advertising to the Internet;
  • Audiences seeking programmes and content rather than channels and schedules; and

So there is increasing pressure on professionals to adopt a long‐term approach to ensuring their skills are as up to date as possible.

Skill requirements and shortages
There are some skills areas, such as broadcast technology, where TV employers struggle to recruit. Increasingly, there are reports of skills needs around management and leadership throughout the industry.

Occupational trends
The TV industry workforce is shared across the following occupational roles:

  • 25% work in ‘other occupational groups’, such as finance, HR, IT, sales and general management
  • 20% in production roles
  • 14% in producing
  • 12% work in journalism and sport

Increasingly, people with commercial skills and entrepreneurial talent are needed for the industry to compete globally.

Certain occupational groups within the TV industry have a greater reliance on freelancers than others. Those working in costume/wardrobe, make up/hairdressing runners, production, camera and sound are the most likely to be working as freelancers.

National and regional data
The largest number of employees in the TV industry is located in:

  • London
  • North West
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • South East

The East Midlands hosts several independent production companies with regular television commissions and corporate production work, including: Kingfisher, Channel 2020, The Media Group, 360 Red, Whistling Gypsy and Main Street Media. ITV Local and BBC East Midlands are based in Nottingham. Midlands Asian Television (MATV), based in Leicester, has a restricted service licence to broadcast news, current affairs and bought‐in Asian films and TV programmes to the Leicester area. The channel also has a cable arm, Channel 6. The regional workforce is around 600.

In the East of England, ITV Anglia and BBC East produce regional news. In Norwich, Town House TV produces the daily Trisha Goddard Show for Five. Imago Productions make a diverse range of programmes. Eye Film & TV works across documentary, drama and corporate production and is involved in training. In Wortham, Bungalow Town Productions make and distribute award‐winning feature documentaries for worldwide cinema and television. There are around 900 people employed in the industry.
In London, there are around 36,600 people working in broadcast TV, cable and satellite, and independent production, which is 65% of the industry.

The North East houses two terrestrial television broadcasters, BBC and Tyne Tees. Tyne Tees' regional output is factual and a quarter of Tyne Tees non‐news regional output is commissioned from independent producers across the region. In 2000, Tyne Tees created Signpost, which is now the leading supplier of on‐screen British Sign Language translation. There are around 400 people working in the industry.

Television broadcasting is an important component of the creative industries in the North West. There are around 4,200 in the workforce. Manchester is a large and established broadcasting centre and the leading regional TV centre outside London. The BBC is relocating London‐based staff to mediacity:uk in Salford. ITV (formerly Granada), also based in Manchester, produces a significant amount of network and regional programming. Independent production is strong in the region with over 90 production companies in the region.

In the South East, there are around 2,400 people working in broadcast TV, cable and satellite, and independent production. The region is home to key broadcasters including ITV Meridian, BBC South and BBC South East, ITV Local, Six TV and Kent TV. Over 10% of the UK's 1,500 plus production companies are based in the region and some companies have regional offices in the region. This represents the largest grouping outside of London and includes companies making feature films, corporate audio visual material, programmes for broadcast television and commercials. Maidstone Studios in Kent are a significant creative industries cluster; the region also boasts two major broadcast support employers, Virgin Media and Arqiva.

The South West has a strong production sector in Specialist Factual and Natural History production, both at BBC Bristol and in the independent production sector. Bristol is an established hub for television production. Two Four, one of the strongest independents outside of London and spanning TV, Interactive and Digital Media and Facilities, is based in Plymouth. There are around 1,800 people employed in the industry.

In the West Midlands, both the BBC and ITV Central have studio bases in Birmingham. The BBC has two bases, namely the Mailbox where regional and network television and radio productions are produced, and the Drama Village at the University of Birmingham. ITV Central is located in purpose‐built premises. There is a strong base of small independent production companies. The main output of these companies is factual entertainment for network and cable television. There are over 1,200 people employed in the industry.

Yorkshire and the Humber has a rich history of media production due in part to ITV Yorkshire being based in the region. ITV Yorkshire has a strong drama base, producing Emmerdale and several network dramas including Heartbeat, The Royal and The Royal Today. The BBC has two main centres in the region BBC Yorkshire and BBC East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. There are over 1,800 in the TV industry workforce.
Northern Ireland is significantly under‐represented in terms of network production. There are approximately 1,200 people employed in the industry.

The total value of TV production activity in Scotland was over £111 million. Of which £54 million are attributable to commissions from the main UK broadcasting networks. Network production in Scotland has declined since 2004. There are over 2,500 people in the TV workforce.

Compared to the size of the population (approximately 3 million people), levels of network production are low in Wales. The Independent sector in Wales is a significant employer. Consolidation with the Independent sector has led to Welsh companies, such as Tinopolis and Boomerang, becoming major players within the UK TV sector. There are around 2,400 people employed in the industry.

Salary levels
The average income received by the TV workforce is £36,300. It is highest within broadcast TV where the average reported income is £37,700. The cable and satellite workforce has an average income of £36,700 and the independent production average stands at £34,600.

Permanent employees in the TV industry have a higher average income than those working as freelancers (averages of £37,600 and £33,600 respectively).
BECTU, the industry trade union, can advise on rates for freelancers working in the industry.

Further sources
Community Channel
RDF Media