Some useful resources when discussing the impact of long hours working

Going through some old files, I’ve found a few things that should prove useful. They’re mostly resources that I pulled together in preparation for the #eyeshalfshut report in 2017.

There was the Who Needs Sleep documentary (2006) in which filmmaker Haskell Wexler, prompted by the avoidable death of a colleague explored the impact of sleep deprivation and long work hours. Interweaving medical findings with personal accounts, his camera reveals how a 24/7 work culture affects workers everywhere. From the ICG (International Cinematographers Guild) Local 600  there’s also a very hard-hitting short filmed account here on Vimeo (log-in is free but you need to log in). The ICG are a guild in Bectu’s US sister union IATSE.

A few years ago, Deadline highlighted the issue of long hours here, and in 2016, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Association published a paper highlighting many of the key issues [pdf]. Continue reading

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Living Wage Foundation brings its annual announcement forward

As reported here in the summer, The Living Wage Foundation has brought forward their announcement of the annual Living Wage/London Living Wage increase. The new figures are £10.90 (90p increase)/£11.95 (£1 increase) respectively – the largest ever annual increase (last year’s figures are here).

The announcement was made in late September instead of late November when it’s usually made.

Employers should implement the rise as soon as possible but by the latest 14th May 2023 if they are to retain their status as a Living Wage Employer. Continue reading

Posted in Inflation, Low pay, Minimum wage rates, Pay & inflation, Wages and Pay-rates, Wealth inequality | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Earnings growth – private sector workers outpace the public sector

Incomes Data Services (IDS) are reporting….

“Average earnings growth was 6.8% in the private sector in the year to August, contrasting with a growth rate of 2.2% in the public sector (excluding financial services)…”

One would think this is encouraging news (at least for private sector workers) if it weren’t for the fact that CPI/RPI/CPIH were at 9.9%/12.3%/8.6% respectively.

It’s worth remembering that the pay rises that came into effect in April 2022 were negotiated in the autumn of 2021 when expectations about inflation were almost comically optimistic. At the time, the forecasts were saying that the leap to 3.2% was an outlier that made things look worse than they were. By the time April came around, the figures were hugely higher (9.1% CPI and 11.1% RPI). Continue reading

Posted in Economics, Inflation | Tagged | 1 Comment

UK independent productions, the inflation punch-in-the-mouth, and the very European remedies.

The boxer, Mike Tyson, was once asked about his plan for a fight and he answered; “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Economists have a variation on that line: “Everyone has a plan until inflation punches you in the mouth.”

Workers will find that, when they tot up the cost of the inflationary increases between the spring of 2021 and the winter of 2023/4 (when current modeling suggests it will fall back to being within the 2% BoE target), they will find that nothing short of a payrise totalling nearly 20% plus some kind of unconsolidated increase of around 10% will be needed unless they are to suffer a fall in their standard of living.

The same is true for productions with (in my view) highly conservative estimates of a 20% inflationary increase that productions will need to meet – on top of all of the other problems the sector is facing.

This has to come as a jolt to anyone who is already worried about the perfect storm that is already threatening the future of UK Independent Production. The British Film Institute (BFI) certainly think so and said as much in the press release [pdf] responding to an Economic Review of UK Independent Film that they had commissioned from the independent research company Alma Economics. Continue reading

Posted in EU & Brexit, Feature film data, Film & TV industry data, Film & TV industry policy, High End TV data, Low budget features, Public Service Broadcasting, Quotas, Regulation, Skills & capacity, SVoD, Tax incentives, UK studios | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Inflation update – August 2022 figures

A pleasant surprise came with the August 2022 inflation figures. CPI was down the 9.9% with the annual RPI inflation rate staying level at 12.3%. CPIH is also slightly down at 8.6%. Most forecasters were expecting further increases.

Last month, I posted the July figures – CPI has reached 10.1%, with RPI at 12.3% and CPIH at 8.8%.

This news follows (but is not affected by) the announcement of new Prime Minister Liz Truss’s plans to freeze the average household’s gas and electricity bill at £2,500 for the next two years last week. Continue reading

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Long CoViD

The TUC has previously surveyed workers with Long CoViD on their experiences and, as a result, they had some very useful information that has informed their work.

We now know much more about the illness, including how many people have it and the duration of symptoms. So they have launched a new survey in order to update their data and produce fresh reports to policymakers and guidance for reps.

I’d like to ask any members who see this to circulate this link to branches and members, and for anyone with Long CoViD to be encouraged to complete it.

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Theatres’ approach to the mourning period following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The British Theatres employer’s bodies have outlined their approach to opening during the mourning period following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The date of the funeral is yet to be announced but this offers a general overview.

Their letter to members has also been circulated to the public (note that this text also includes a link to the UK government’s guidance on the mourning period):

Dear SOLT & UK Theatre members,

Following the sad news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, we have been liaising with the government and are now in a position to share the official guidance.

In relation to Major Events, Entertainment and Sports it states: Continue reading

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EU Media Freedom Act – just published

My thanks to Carole Tongue for sending this to me.

The EU’s ‘Media Freedom Act’ has been published and the text will be voted on by the European Commission on 13 September before being submitted to the Parliament and the Council. A full copy of the official text of the EU Media Freedom Act 2022 can be seen here [pdf]

This text is a proposed regulation (binding in its entirety and directly applicable to Member States) accompanied by a recommendation on good practices observed in Europe, which Member States will be invited to follow.
In budgetary terms, the Creative Europe program is included in the multiannual financial framework 2021-2027.

The key points are as follows:

Public service media

The text guarantees the necessary financial resources of the media “Member States shall ensure that public service media providers have adequate and stable financial resources to fulfill their public service remit. These resources shall be such that editorial independence is preserved.” (Article 5) Continue reading

Posted in Culture policy, EU & Brexit, Public Service Broadcasting, Quotas, Regulation, SVoD | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Alliance of Documentary Editors guidance on production scheduling.

The US-based ‘Alliance of Documentary Editors’ (ADE) describes itself as

“…a working group of documentary film and television editors and assistant editors nationwide that campaigns for best practices within the industry while improving members’ career sustainability. The ADE promotes a better understanding and acknowledgement of the documentary editor’s unique position as storyteller, writer, and artist, as well as technician. We advocate for better working conditions and codified ethical standards, and champion diversity, inclusivity, and mentorship in documentary post-production.”

Last November, they launched a Guide for Documentary Edit Schedules [pdf]. The guide calls for Editors to be more involved in the scheduling of documentaries and for experience Editors to be given a greater role in the management of production. For a good summary, have a look at their Press Release [pdf].

It’s also really about the obvious. As the Hollywood Reporter puts it… Continue reading

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Touring in Europe – update

Folk-punk band Ferocious Dog has cancelled European tour dates as reported by the BBC. They’ve cited inflationary pressures – everyone is busy and all equipment hire now costs top-dollar – but they’ve added Brexit-related costs and inconveniences to the mix.

The cost of a Carnet (£890) and

“Once you get to Dover they take you away for about an hour and they get your carnet stamped. Nine times out of ten, they don’t even look at what’s on the bus and it adds time onto your journey.”

Also, they now have to pay tax on all merchandise.

“Something we never had to do before: we pay VAT on every item before we go out.”

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Cunningham’s Law of Internet Discourse (to get the right answers, pretend to agree with the wrong ones)

A nice post here from 2013 illustrates Cunningham’s Law of Internet Discourse, which says…

“…the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.”

The late chef, Anthony Boudain, worked out that he couldn’t get a good answer when he asked people where he should eat (no one replied) but when he picked an eatery at random and invented some praise for it, the internet yelled at him telling him where he should have gone himself.

I’m posting this here because it’s a good tip for Bectu reps who are struggling to get a response from busy members. People who barely notice you will be suddenly energised into enlightening you if you just say something that is probably wrong online.

The downside is that there are always one or two people who may not be your biggest fans who will treat it as further proof (if proof were needed!) that you’re a bit stupid.

PS: The ‘Cunningham’ in question was a founder of Wikipedia.

Hat tip to Emily Collin for pointing me towards this gem.

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Individual liability for safety breaches

There’s an interesting article here on Safety and Health Practitioner about a trend towards assigning liability for breaches to individuals instead of companies.

“Whilst any potential breach by a business is likely to be associated with failings on the part of certain individuals, the authorities are only likely to pursue an individual prosecution if they see similar evidence of individual neglect and reckless disregard of health and safety requirements to that attributed to the company, perhaps motivated by cost-cutting. A material factor in determining individual liability is an assessment of who has a primary role in the implementation of health and safety procedures/policies.”

Continue reading

Posted in Freelance working, Freelancer rights, Gig economy workers, Health & Safety, Safe working practices, Safe working standards | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

July inflation figures. There’s no good news here…

By now you will probably have seen this morning’s announcements about July’s inflation rates. CPI has reached 10.1% (RPI = 12.3% and CPIH = 8.8%). The Bank of England is predicting that it could go as high as 13% thanks to energy price rises.

For people on relatively lower incomes, these rates mask more alarming figures. As the IFS predicted a few months ago, the inflation rates for the lower earners are significantly higher than the average and that gap is unusually high. Paul Johnson from the IFS today made the point that, if – as predicted – rates hit 13% in October, then poorer households will experience inflation of c.18%. Continue reading

Posted in Economics, Housing costs, Inflation, Low pay, Pay & inflation, Wages and Pay-rates, Wealth inequality | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Working in hot temperatures

Looking at a timely email from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it’s worth remembering that there is no law for maximum working temperature, or when it’s too hot to work.

However, employers must keep workplaces at a comfortable temperature. It’s worth reminding Bectu members that the union has a strong set of resources for reps on our website – here.

As the FT reported here

Unions in the UK and EU are pushing for laws on maximum working temperatures. Only a few European countries now have legal limits, which range from 28C to 36C. Yet, it is workers in precarious jobs with little union presence who are at the greatest risk.

HSE’s temperature website has practical guidance on what you can do to manage the risks so people can work safely in hot conditions. This practical guidance includes advice on:

  • managing workplace temperature
  • outdoor working
  • heat stress

The HSE is also advising employers to act now to make sure their workplaces are ready for warmer weather in the future.

The FT concludes that hot weather working is here to stay, and – like the pandemic – lower paid and more precariously employed workers are likely to suffer more than people who work in more permanent and professional roles.

Posted in Health & Safety, Hot weather working, Safe working practices, Safe working standards, The working environment | Tagged | Leave a comment

Inflation update

None of this should be much of a surprise now. June’s figures are out and the figures are 11.8% (RPI), 9.4% (CPI), and 8.2% (CPIH). Remember, all wages that don’t keep pace with inflation result in short-term falls in standards of living (which is bad) but they bake in significantly larger falls in your quality of life (which is a great deal worse).

All of the recent posts about inflation are here.

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Bectu guide to DGA rules covering 1st ADs working on US productions in the UK

If a production wishes to engage a UK-based 1st AD, Bectu can issue a waiver letter that releases the production from the contractual obligation to engage a DGA 1st AD. The DGA recognises Bectu as the appropriate regulatory agency under their rules. This will allow the production to avoid any of the penalty payments that would normally be due for employing a non-DGA 1st AD.

Bectu have produced this guide.

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AI and Performers’ Rights

Equity have forwarded an interesting motion to the TUC Annual Congress that takes place in early September:

Congress welcomes the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) in augmenting technological and social development – if it is used ethically and responsibly. It acknowledges the TUC’s Work and the AI Revolution reports that stress the need for essential practical and legislative safeguards to protect employees and workers, and notably their intellectual property rights. Continue reading

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Hot weather working – resources

There’s a useful collection of advice on hot weather working on the Bectu site – here.

Posted in Health & Safety, Hot weather working, Safe working practices, Safe working standards | Leave a comment

TUC update on insecure work

The TUC have published a report on the economy’s increased reliance upon insecure work (there are 500,000+ more insecure workers now than there were in 2016), calling for

“Government inaction has left 3.7 million people in insecure work.

Despite the Government’s promise to make Britain the best place in the world to work, huge numbers of workers don’t know when their next shift will be or if they will be able to pay their bills.

It is notable that five years after the report of the Taylor Review of modern working practices that most of its flagship measures remain unimplemented. And the employment bill ministers repeatedly committed to appears to have been shelved.

Instead, the government has sought to attack trade union rights by imposing a levy on unions, making it easier for agency workers to be brought in for striking workers and upping the damages employers can claim for industrial action.

We need a new approach that restores power to workers to negotiate better rights.”

The TUC has been calling for a new Employment Bill to deal with a lot of issues related to employment status, and one was promised by the outgoing PM, but its future is fairly uncertain now. The promise to implement the terms of the Taylor Review are also back on the long finger, it seems…

You can download the report [pdf] here and read the Guardian report on it here.

Posted in Employment, Employment Law and Rights, Freelance working, Gig economy workers | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Irish basic income for arts workers – update

I’ve already posted a couple of times about the plan to pilot a sectoral Basic Income for arts workers in Ireland.

Today I attended a TUC seminar on this with Karan O Loughlin from SIPTU (the Irish union that covers our sectors) and Mike Brewer from Resolution Foundation who is an expert on Social Security.

Mike talked about his recent academic paper – Did the UK policy response to Covid- 19 protect household incomes.” [pdf] – which assesses the potential distributional impact of introducing a Universal Basic Income (UBI) instead of the Covid emergency measures.

I don’t have too much to add to what we know about the Irish experiment today, but there were a few useful nuggets of information that are worth recording.

Firstly, SIPTU made the case very well back in 2019 when they showed that people in the arts sector who entered the realms of the unemployed than most people, and that they don’t need as much coercion to make them get a job – so pressure from the social security agencies on workers to take any job were more likely to harm their long-term career prospects than to help them.

Treating people who are arts freelancers who are between jobs as part of the general pool of the unemployed doesn’t make as much sense as governments many think it does.


A few other tangential learnings: in Ireland, the process of managing individual taxes in a more digital way (like the UK’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ initiative) has resulted in people losing the ability to use job mobility as an argument for being taxed as a freelancer – something we may see more of in the near future here in the UK. Continue reading

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UK economic outlook – forecasts downgraded – what this means for freelancers

Unless someone tells me otherwise, it seems that the biggest issue for many freelancers arising from the cost-of-living crisis is the question of rising fuel costs – and this is likely to hit workers in film and TV particularly hard because of the fact that they need to do a daily commute to far-flung locations, often for months on end.

Anyone who has been following all of the posts on here about inflation (or more to the point, all of the non-trivial headlines from most news outlets in recent months) will be aware of the tough economic climate out there, and the impact that it is having on the cost of living and the ability of wages to keep pace.

Yesterday’s headlines were all about forecasts being revised with pessimism. The UK’s economic growth and inflation forecasts were particularly gloomy – inflation is expected to reach (!) double figures and the good news [sic] is that it will fall to only 4.7% by the end of 2023. Growth is expected to go into negative figures in Q4 of this yer.

There’s also the little matter of fuel costs – topping £100 to fill up an average family car for the first time.

Continue reading

Posted in Film & TV industry data, Freelance working, Inflation, Pay & inflation, Tax, Wages and Pay-rates | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Living Wage Foundation response to the cost of living crisis

As the cost of living soars at rates not seen for more than thirty years, the Living Wage Foundation has announced plans to bring its annual announcement forward from November to late September.

The previous figure was announced in mid-November 2021, fixing the figures at £9.90 in the UK with the London Living Wage (that considers the expense of living in the capital) at £11.05. Even at that point, forecasters (who had spent all of 2021 pushing an over-optimistic outlook) failed to foresee the severity of Spring 2022’s inflation rises (partly due to the war in Ukraine).

A list of recent posts on inflation can be seen here.

An explanation of what ‘the real living wage’ is can be seen here.


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Health and Safety research resources.

We are looking at doing some comparisons between different industries on the physical stress that applies to particular types of work (and ultimately, perhaps, with the industries covered by Bectu in comparison with other countries).

One resource Karl Raw from the HSE has pointed me towards is the HSE’s shared research programme. Annoyingly, reports are archived by the report number rather than the subject matter. The insight research is worth a look though.

Posted in Health & Safety, Long hours, Mental Health, Safe working practices, Safe working standards, Wellbeing | Tagged | Leave a comment

More on TV / radio presenters and IR35

Another twist in the tale of TV and Radio Presenters in dispute with HMRC about whether they are self-employed or not.

The short version – according to this report on the Contractor Weekly website – is that Paul Hawksbee – a radio presenter has lost his case and the Kaye Adams case is back in play as well – so the plot is thickening generally here.

At issue is the question of how far the presenter is business in their own right. See also a few of the posts on here about Adrian Chiles. As one of the lawyers is quoted on CW saying…

“Information on whether the contractor had its own independent client base, or whether it subcontracts elements of its service to other people at its own discretion can help demonstrate how the contractor is truly operating as a truly self-employed person and not a disguised employee.”

On the Kaye Adams case, HMRC succeeded in their appeal.

The Court decided that the Upper Tribunal was wrong to have determined the employment status of Kaye Adams under a hypothetical contract with the BBC by focusing on the status she had during her professional career rather than the terms and circumstances of the particular engagements with the BBC.

In addition, the Upper Tribunal was wrong to have taken into account matters which were not or may not have been known to both contracting parties.

The decision has been remitted to the Upper Tribunal to apply the correct test.

(Thanks to Paula Lamont for the tip)

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Ireland ‘Universal Basic Income for artists’ update

As mentioned here previously, the Irish government is toying with the idea of offering a Universal Basic Income for artists and arts sector workers [£] to help even out the bumpy income that comes with freelancing.

More details are emerging now. It seems that they will do a trial whereby they ask people to show that they meet the criteria, and then people will be randomly selected to receive the support. Those who don’t get it will be asked to form part of a control group.

9,000 have applied and those selected will receive €325 a week. The selection process will pick 2,000 applicants at random and award them the support

Arts Minister Catherine Martin said:

“The new measure makes a statement about our values as a nation – that the voices of artists have been heard and that the arts matter. This is a unique opportunity to research the impact a basic income could have on the arts and to provide the evidence base for permanent support.”

More here:


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“Fewer opportunities” and “less attention to merit” – Apple’s anti-union playbook

A leaked talking-points memo from Apple shows how the use of FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) reminds us that employers rarely present themselves being as anti-union in principle.

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April inflation figures – again, worse than expected

Even by the standards of the past 18 months where all forecasts have been shown to be over-optimistic, the leap in CPI inflation between March and April from 7% up to 9% is a startling one. Here’s the ONS summary page.

As every news broadcaster is reminding us, it’s the highest rate for 40 years (March 1982, it was at 9.1% on remodeled figures because CPI wasn’t used as a measure in the 1980s).

RPI is at a staggering 11.1% and CPIH is at 7.8%. If you’re confused by the different ways of measuring inflation (you should be!) there’s a useful outline here [PDF].

You can find out more about how this affects your housing costs here (including a personal calculator).

Posted in Economics, Inflation, Low pay, Pay & inflation, Wages and Pay-rates | Tagged , | Leave a comment

BFC Working Safety During CoViD-19 Guidance

Here is the latest version of the British Film Commission guidance on this issue [pdf] (posted without comment).

Posted in Coronavirus, Coronavirus, Feature film data, Health & Safety, High End TV data, Low budget features, Safe working practices, Safe working standards | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bectu mental health hub

This webpage on the Bectu site includes links to our campaign to give workers the right to switch off from work along with guidance on managing mental health and stress at work, along with some of the union’s work on the future of work.

Well worth a look, and circulating if you get a moment

Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Health & Safety, Illness and disability, Mental Health, Wellbeing, Work-life balance | Tagged | Leave a comment

Broadcasting White Paper published

The DCMS has published its Broadcasting White Paper promising “a new golden age of programming” with changes to regulations on SVoDs, sports rights, and the privatisation of Channel 4. One change is that C4 will be able to start producing its own content – to become a production company as well as a distributor of independent content.

There’s a useful round up here from Advanced Television and there will, no doubt, be more on this from the union to follow.

Posted in BBC, Film & TV industry data, Film & TV industry policy, High End TV data, Public Service Broadcasting, SVoD | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Labour market enforcement – update

Reading my copy of PIRC’s quarterly Work newsletter, I see that there’s no mention of the budget / timetable for the proposed Single Enforcement Body (SEB) that we are hoping to see from the UK government.

There is an ongoing consultation on the UK’s labour market enforcement strategy though. Overseen by Margaret Beels, who was appointed in November 2021, the SEB will set the strategic direction for the 3 existing labour market enforcement bodies:

  • the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate
  • the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
  • HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Team

PIRC’s own review of employment-related violations among the FTSE 350 reveals only 8 PLCs have been caught by HMRC for underpayment of wages between 2016-2019. Continue reading

Posted in Employment Contracts, Employment Law and Rights, Gig economy workers, Low pay, Minimum wage rates, Wages and Pay-rates | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bectu ‘Live to Work’ campaign launched

Bectu has launched the Live to Work campaign aimed at improving terms and conditions in the UK TV drama industry. You can visit the campaign page here and join the network (open to members and non-members), download images to use on social media and order campaigning materials.Live to Work campaign

Bectu National Secretary, Spencer MacDonald says: Continue reading

Posted in Bectu Agreements, Film & TV industry policy, Freelance working, High End TV data, Long hours, Safe working practices, Safe working standards, TV Drama Agreement, Wellbeing, Work-life balance | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Update: CoViD health and safety guidance – links

Here are some use useful links that include the latest guidance.

UK Government


HSE (England, Scotland and Wales)

Cast and crew health and wellbeing

Bectu pages

Posted in Coronavirus, Coronavirus, Health & Safety, Mental Health, Safe working practices, Safe working standards | Leave a comment

Halyna Hutchins – Rust producers – “demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety”

There’s a lot more investigating to take place, not least into the question of how a live round ended up in a prop gun. But here’s CCN’s account of the report released by New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health & Safety Bureau.

It would be a mistake to comment on this before all of the full facts are known but this issue will be being watched closely by the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and Bectu will be raising it as part of the union’s regular engagement with health and safety structures.

There are currently discussions about reviewing parts of the UK’s guidance on use of armoury on set in the wider context of prop weapons.

Posted in Equipment and kit, Health & Safety, Safe working practices, Safe working standards, Whistleblowing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Demand for UK studio space v Netflix subscriber drop

Two stories passing each other in this week’s newspapers. Firstly, a good fact-packed briefing from The Times [£] on how demand for studio space is multiplying at the moment, to meet the demands of SVoD productions:

“UK production spend is expected to rise sharply, to more than £11 billion a year by 2026, up from £5.6 billion last year.”


“…the property agency Knight Frank estimates that the UK will need an extra 6 million sq ft of studio space over the next five years if the sector is to keep pace with growing demand…”

Knight Frank may want to ask themselves where the skills capacity to meet that demand is going to be found though? On top of all of the other developments that you can look at on this blog’s UK Studio Watch updates, there’s also this:

“Last year Netflix struck a deal with Segro, the FTSE 100 warehouse landlord, to occupy around 230,000 sq ft of production space in Enfield.”

However, moving in the other direction, there’s the widely reported drop in Netflix subscriptions. As the BBC reported, $50bn has been wiped off Netflix’s value because…. Continue reading

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