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Industry unites to launch new Unscripted TV Skills Fund

May 6, 2021

ScreenSkills, broadcasters, SVoDs and PACT have announced a new fund which will transform investment for unscripted TV and build a bigger pool of off-screen crew and talent in the nations and regions. The Unscripted TV Skills Fund will replace the existing TV Skills Fund from 1 June 2021. 

Training and skills for people working in unscripted TV genres including factual, entertainment, factual entertainment, sport, current affairs and others – has been supported until this year by leading broadcasters through the TV Skills Fund but work is now to be expanded with a new Unscripted ScreenSkills TV Skills Fund. (This excludes programmes with a budget of £1 million+ an hour which are eligible for the high-end TV tax credit.)

The Unscripted TV Skills Fund is a new fund going live on 1 June 2021 which will address skills gaps and shortages in unscripted television across the UK and build a bigger pool of off-screen crew and talent in the nations and regions.

Investing matched contributions from broadcasters who are signed up and productions, the fund is designed to build a more inclusive workforce and future-proof the industry.

The Unscripted TV Skills Fund will supersede the existing ScreenSkills TV Skills Fund, which has relied on broadcaster contributions alone, and the Indie Training Fund, which has been supported by indie contributions.

Partners for launch are ScreenSkills, PACT, the BBC, Channel 4, Sky, A+E Networks UK and Discovery UK with discussions continuing with other broadcasters and streamers.

The benefit to producers should be a stronger supply of trained professionals in key shortage roles across areas including production management, development, self-shooting skills and post-production. Freelancers working in all genres of unscripted TV will benefit from a rolling slate of short courses.

Agreed genres to be supported through the new fund are specialist factual, general factual, factual entertainment, sport, entertainment, current affairs, arts and classical music, religion and ethics and education.

A minimum of 50% of beneficiaries will meet at least one industry-recognised diversity and inclusion target.

A minimum of 50% of the fund will be invested to support training beneficiaries based in the nations and regions, rising to 100% in specific shortage areas.

A minimum of 50% of the spend on training will go to out of London trainers.

Contributions will be shared between production companies and broadcasters/SVoDs. Production contributions will be due when a programme is delivered and will only relate to productions commissioned after the official launch of the fund on 1 June.

Unscripted UK productions contribute 0.25% of the agreed price of the commission split equally between the broadcaster or SVoD and the production company, up to an agreed cap. This means for every £1,000 spent, the broadcaster will pay £1.25 and the production company will pay £1.25.

The broadcaster/SVoD will collect the fund contribution for the production company, as with Directors UK fees.

As with other ScreenSkills skills funds, the Unscripted TV Skills Fund will be industry-led with a council, steering group and working groups.

The council and working groups will be comprised of representatives from indies across the UK who it is felt are best placed to prioritise the job grades which need action and identify the most appropriate solutions. The working groups will ensure investment decisions are based in on-the-ground experience based on five core areas of need – craft and tech, production, post-production, development, and industry and business skills. Training will be agreed by the working groups and council.

Half of the membership of the council and of working groups will come from out of London.

A steering group of contributing broadcasters, SVoDs and producers will oversee the fund’s strategic objectives and operational efficacy.  ScreenSkills is inviting experienced industry professionals who are interested in representing their genre or nation or region as part of the new Unscripted TV Skills Fund governance to contact us by 30 April 2021 in the first instance. Appointments to the council and working groups will be made to ensure a diversity of representation.

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