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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.

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.

Key statistics:

  • 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)
    • 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.
  • 55% of the workforce is male.
  • 35% of the workforce is under 35 years.
  • 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%).
  • Nearly half of the TV workforce has undertaken unpaid work within the creative industries.

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.

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

So there is increasing pressure on professionals to adopt a long-term approach to ensuring their skills are as up to date as possible. 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. Increasingly, people with commercial skills and entrepreneurial talent are needed for the industry to compete globally.

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

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.

The largest number of employees in the TV industry is located in: London; the North West; Scotland; Wales; and the South East

Source: Skillset AACS LMI report 2010 and TV Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009

Occupational profile of the TV workforce, 2006


Source: TV Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Figure 3. Data from Skillset’s 2006 Employment Census.