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Monday May 12, 2014

ITV Studios Profit From Burning Out Freelance Employees

AFL-CIO, New York City Councilmember urge largest independent producer of unscripted television to provide its producer-writers with health benefits, paid time off

NEW YORK, NY (MAY 12, 2014) – Today, the AFL-CIO and a New York City Councilmember delivered letters to ITV Studios urging the British-owned mega-corporation to immediately negotiate a reasonable collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guild of America, East.

ITV works its producer-writers (including associate producers, field producers, and post-producers) 50, 60, 70 hours per week and refuses to provide them health benefits, paid time off and other basic protections. ITV employees in Britain would not – and do not – tolerate such treatment.  Nor will the writer-producers at ITV’s New York operations, who acted nearly four years ago to gain representation by the Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO.

Last week, ITV, headed by CEO Adam Crozier in London, paid $360 million to acquire 80% of Leftfield Entertainment Group, capping an 18 month spending spree, which makes ITV the largest independent unscripted television producer in the United States.

This massive expenditure proves how profitable it is to produce nonfiction television programs in the United States.  ITV has generated, and plans to generate, multiple millions of dollars in profits by burning out the freelance employees who actually craft the shows it sells to networks such as Discovery and National Geographic.

The Writers Guild of America, East hand delivered letters to ITV’s New York offices that were written and signed by AFL-CIO executive vice president Tefere Gebre and New York City Councilman Corey Johnson, whose district includes ITV’s offices.

“ITV’s purchase of Leftfield Pictures for $360 million in cash is troubling,” said Tefere Gebre of the AFL-CIO. “ITV freelance producers and associate producers have waited – literally for years – since winning their union election to see this company agree to even a modest health care plan.  Yet ITV readily has the cash on hand for this historic purchase and predicts it will help their profits from day one. We call on them to make today “day one” of rewarding their freelancers for their hard work and agreeing to a union contract.”

“The creative economy is important to New York City and we need to encourage its growth. But we don’t need to encourage the growth of a business model that takes advantage of a precarious freelance workforce, working people to their breaking point and then kicking them to the curb,” said New York City Councilmember Corey Johnson. “With a union, freelance nonfiction television producers and associate producers can set some standards that allow them to build long, stable careers in New York’s creative economy, and grow the city’s middle class for years to come.”

Read the letter from the AFL-CIO

Read the letter from NYC Councilmember Corey Johnson

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