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Factual TV workers make big sacrifices, have no protection: survey

A survey of 328 workers in Canada’s unscripted and reality TV sector indicates they are precariously employed in difficult situations and have no safety net. The online survey was conducted by the Canadian Media Guild between May and July of this year.

“The survey confirms the troubling anecdotes we’ve been hearing from people over many months,” says Karen Wirsig, an organizer with the Canadian Media Guild. “The conditions are getting tougher, with long and unpredictable hours when the work is available and periods of unemployment with no safety net. The industry is chewing people up and spitting them out the other end.”

Nearly 60% of survey respondents reported working at least 45 hours per week in their last or current project. This compares with the Canadian average of 36.6 hours per week. Half said they are often expected to work nights and/or weekends with no notice. Two-thirds lose their pay when they are sick. Nearly a third reported working in situations that were unsafe and 37% witnessed situations that were unsafe for others. However, many are reluctant to speak up and 48% of the women reported having been bullied by a superior.

Click here for the report on pay in factual TV.

“Many people I know have truly enjoyed working in this industry,” says Buffy Childerhose, a long-time writer and director.  “We love being storytellers, especially when we get to tell Canadian stories. But the tenor has changed, and many talented and creative people are now wondering how they can exit an industry fraught with unprofessional, unfair and even unsafe work environments.

Click here to read the first report of the survey results. A second report on issues related to pay will be released next week.

For more information, contact Karen Wirsig (karen@cmg.ca) at  416-591-5333, ext. 222, or toll free 1-800-465-4149.

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