Unit 8 Assignment 3- Contracts and
Ethics
Channel 4, unlike the BBC does not have in house production rather it commission...
In a creative industry a big part of the value of a business can be in the ideas and intellectual
property ownership and g...
I think these codes are all very important for retaining the confidence and trust with the
independent producers C4 hires,...
The following pages show the key areas Channel 4 producer handbook covers.
Channel 4 have to deal with a whole range of complex social concerns, expectations
and ethics as a result of the remit of ...
This example only goes to show how
complicated the contractual and ethical
issues that a broadcaster like Channel 4
faces,...
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Assignment 3a

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Transcript of "Assignment 3a"

  1. 1. Unit 8 Assignment 3- Contracts and Ethics Channel 4, unlike the BBC does not have in house production rather it commissions all of its programmes from independent producers. As a broadcaster it has a permanent work force of around 800 people, and more freelance, contract, fixed term workers. The roles and services these people provide are very varied. There are for example programme commissioners across all the genres, legal/business affairs, finance, press, technical broadcast services, multiplatform, research and development roles to name just a few. Channel 4 has legal and ethical obligations as an employer to all the people it employs – the nature of this depends on the contractual relationship/status between the individual and the Channel. In order to retain a broadcasting licence and operate within the law, Channel 4 must adhere to its remit and operate within the regulatory framework of the industry governed by Ofcom. This not only relates to the range and way in which issues/topics are covered in its programming but also how issues, individuals and groups are represented within them. In terms of the work force within Channel 4 itself and the independent sector we can identify the follows types of contractual relationships: Fixed term contracts: this refers to when someone has a contract but there is a fixed start and end date, for example a researcher might be employed on a specific project for 6 months and the company do not want to offer this person a long term staff/permanent job. Freelance contracts; some roles in the TV industry are categorised by the HMRC as freelance, meaning people can work for a company in this role (e.g. as a producer or cameraman) on a specific project and invoice the company for their time, the company does not have to pay tax against these earnings and it is the responsibility of the individual to submit a tax return and pay their own tax. The idea is the company is only getting their services for a period of time and not employing them as any employee. In the TV industry this is a typical way for lots of people to work and there is a big freelance community who move between different companies doing short contracts on different projects; these are the list of job that can be freelance Full-time and part-time contracts: Full-time employment or staff/permanent contracts are when a person does not have an end date in their contract, they are contracted to work a minimum number of hours defined as such by his/her employer and they have employment rights in line with their status that means an employee can not unfair dismiss them. Full-time employment often comes with benefits that are not typically offered temporary, or flexible workers, such as annual leave, sick leave, and health insurance. Full-time jobs are often considered careers and as Channel 4 is a broadcaster rather than an independent producer they have a large number of permanent staff
  2. 2. In a creative industry a big part of the value of a business can be in the ideas and intellectual property ownership and generation, so when a person works for say an independent producer the employer needs to be sure that person will not share confidential information with competitors. A confidentiality agreement is a written legal contract between an employer and employee. The confidentiality agreement lays out binding terms and conditions that prohibit the employee from disclosing company confidential and proprietary information. A confidentiality agreement is in effect for the duration of an employee’s employment and for a period of time following employment termination. Employers benefit from confidentiality agreements because they keep these parties from sharing proprietary knowledge, trade secrets, client or product information, strategic plans, and other information that is confidential and proprietary to the company with competitors. Whereas exclusivity contracts are an agreement which are used to try to ensure that the other parties do not make a prospective deal or negotiate solely with the client for a period of time. They aim to give the client some protection from another party outbidding him. Channel 4 as a broadcaster has a licence from Ofcom permitting it to broadcast but which stipulates the need to meet a remit (i.e. quotas for various types of programmes) and to follow Ofcom codes of practice. In line with the Ofcom code Channel 4 has created guidelines for what it does as a broadcaster and how it works with it’s suppliers, outlined on it’s website and in the producers handbook and a code of practice between itself and it’s suppliers/independent producers. This code required Channel 4 to give producers; - Clarity over the different categories of rights that Channel 4 is seeking to secure in programmes it commissions from independent producers - Clarity over the duration for which Channel 4 seeks to secure these different categories of rights - Clarity over the prices that Channel 4 is willing to pay for these different categories of rights - Clarity over Channel 4’s participation in other programme income - A clear commissioning process and structure for conclusion of negotiations - Provisions for monitoring the application of this Code and resolving any disputes The overarching Ofcom Broadcasting Code not only defines how Channel 4 deal with it’s suppliers but also how it operates more broadly, it is designed to ensure that generally accepted standards are upheld in television programmes in order to protect members of the public from harmful or offensive material. As noted on the Channel 4 website the code acknowledges the importance of freedom of expression but points out that with those rights come responsibilities. The Code has 9 key sections containing "Principles" and "Rules": 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Protecting the under-eighteen's; Harm and offence; Crime; Religion; Due impartiality; Elections and referendums; 7. Fairness; 8. Privacy; 9. Commercial references in TV programming
  3. 3. I think these codes are all very important for retaining the confidence and trust with the independent producers C4 hires, the codes also make sure they understand what rights they have. The codes of practice help the people in the industry, as they have to come up with more creative ideas that do not breach the rules, because if there were no codes, there would be all kinds of bad things on television Policies and procedures; C4 have a whole range of policies and procedures that it and producers who work for Channel 4 are required to adhere to from the point at which a programme is commissioned through to transmission and beyond. These reflect the broader requirements of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, which is designed to ensure that generally accepted standards are upheld in television programmes in order to protect members of the public from harmful or offensive material, and also C4 obligations under it’s Code of practice to it’s employees and suppliers and under the law. Before a programme is formally commissioned by Channel 4 the Independent producer will put together a detailed Editorial Specification that includes the editorial outline, staffing expectations, agreed timetable for production, post-production, viewings and scripts. Once agreed it will go to Channel 4’s Programme Finance Committee (PFC) or Business Approval Board (BAB), which approve projects after considering the identified risks to C4 in financial, legal, business, scheduling and practical terms of each project submitted. Following PFC or BAB approval the contract will be issued and a standard commissioning contract issued. Channel 4 contracts with independent producers on the basis of its Code of Practice - approved by OFCOM and PACT - which governs how Channel 4 manages its relationship with Independents. It outlines both what is expected of Channel 4, and what Channel 4 can fairly expect of its suppliers in return. It also outlines the commissioning process. As part of the Commissioning Agreement C4 licences various rights from the producer which allow it to transmit the programme, as part of the agreement the producer agrees to clear the programme for this usage. So in theory Channel 4 will not broadcast a programme before a contract has been signed or indeed before the producer has confirmed that all the relevant clearances have been obtained. Channel 4 provide extensive guidance to producers in the form of a ‘producers handbook’ (http://www.channel4.com/producers-handbook/c4-complianceprocedures/internal-procedures-for-reference-up-and-compliance), this not only outlines the procedures within Channel 4 for key decisions and lines of responsibility (referral up the chain of command at Channel 4 across complex editorial matters/decisions on projects) but also to the final delivery of the programme, from the technical point of view but also the paperwork that needs to be submitted to show all the clearances have been made for the programme. In addition this relates back the initial editorial specification drawn up before the PFC/BAB meeting and the guidance created at the point of the compliance meeting, as part of it’s procedures Channel 4 insist all productions have a compliance meeting to discuss any issues related to the subject matter or contributors in a programme/series, in the final paperwork the Channel refers back to this to ensure any matters that were flagged as areas of concern have been addressed.
  4. 4. The following pages show the key areas Channel 4 producer handbook covers.
  5. 5. Channel 4 have to deal with a whole range of complex social concerns, expectations and ethics as a result of the remit of the channel. The recent coverage of the Mark Duggan case was an interesting example of this, where Channel 4 had a real responsibility to report, interrogate, challenge all the issues around this case but also a responsibility to be fair and balanced in this coverage and not to incite further violence. Fair and appropriate representation of groups and individuals on Channel 4 is a key question and one that Ofcom code tries to offer guidance and best practice around. It is however a very complex area. Recently channel 4 has run a documentary series called ‘Benefit Street’ that has raised huge amount of controversy. Channel 4 often shows programmes which show a diverse range of people from all walks of life. However, many were asking whether ‘Benefit Street’ was the right name for the programme, as it sends off the wrong message about the area and isn’t entirely true. The programme is an observational documentary about a street in Birmingham where apparently 90% of the inhabitants are on benefits, the programme made by Love Productions, chose to select a small number of contributors and follow their lives over a year. It certainly made fascinating TV, but has been heavily criticised as having not given a balanced view of the street, dealt with the broader issues of the causes of such poverty, represented the street fairly as a whole or indeed considered if the impact on the vulnerable people in the programme. A key question was whether these contributors knew what they had committed to and many felt they did not as they were apparently unaware of the title of the programme until it was broadcast – it’s working title was in fact ‘Community Spirit’ which was changed according to Ralph Lee, the head of factual commissioning at Channel 4 who appeared on Newsnight to defend the programme.
  6. 6. This example only goes to show how complicated the contractual and ethical issues that a broadcaster like Channel 4 faces, but I feel uncomfortable about the way in this case they showed these people and it how much hatred this representation caused on places like Twitter with members of the public post really awful opinions and threats against the contributors in this programme – ironically they have now had to be moved out of their street for their own protection! http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/aug/30/ofcom-investigate-bbc-citizen-khan Sources https://www.gov.uk/contract-types-and-employer-responsibilities http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full-time http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Part-time http://humanresources.about.com/od/glossaryc/g/confidentiality_agreement.htm http://www.channel4.com/media/documents/commissioning/DOCUMENTS%20RES OURCES%20WEBSITES/CodeOfPractice.pdf

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