Working life in our industry is going to get a lot tougher after we all emerge from lockdown, that we know for sure. But Channel 4 don’t want to wait that long it seems. This broadcaster currently has its own well-publicised woes but it appears that the way they are responding is not to cut back on their own expectations but simply to hack away at the workers who make their shows for them.
In this way word has reached various Facebook freelancer groups of a production currently being made for Channel 4 which is offering jaw droppingly low rates of pay – including a pay rate of £400 for four weeks work as a data wrangler.
Yes, you did read that right. £20 a day. 5 days a week. For a month.
It’s a job which HMRC classify as one that must be PAYE and hence falls under the minimum wage regulations, however when I asked about that – a total of eight times – they wouldn’t (or couldn’t) confirm that the person who took that job would indeed get paid at least the legal minimum.
They also wouldn’t (or couldn’t) answer the question of whether they would be slashing all their rates on all productions in a similar way, based on the current situation.
It seems then that Channel 4 has now decided to place itself right at the very bottom of the market when it comes to paying for their shows, a place traditionally held by the likes of those local channels which run endless talking head shows and old films. No cutting their cloth, much easier to cut everyone else’s instead it seems.
Freelancers be warned in that case; any thought of paying your bills while working on a production for that outfit are likely to face some disappointment in the future.
It does leave the question though – if you can’t budget a production sufficiently to enable you to pay workers at least the legal minimum, then is it maybe time to give up the game entirely?
A few of the thoughts from freelancers on Facebook: