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COVID-19 update for indies

UPDATE 15TH APRIL 2020: Please note that this page is no longer being updated and all of Pact's COVID-19 information and resources are now in our dedicated COVID-19 section, which can be found here.



Catch-Up: Weekly Webinar Briefing and Q&A (posted Thursday 9th April)

Pact members are now able to stream our latest Impact of COVID-19 on Independent Production Webinar Briefing and Q&A session featuring our CEO John McVay, Deputy CEO and Director of Business Affairs Max Rumney, and Managing Director of Business Development & Global Strategy, Dawn McCarthy-Simpson.

Watch the webinar here.
NB. you must be a Pact member to access this content.

BFI announces £4.6m support for industry (posted 15.04.2020)

The BFI has announced a package of support to offset the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, which includes a Film Continuation Fund which will make up to £2m available to independent UK productions.

Read more here.


Development pot from Screen Scotland (posted 09.04.2020)

Screen Scotland has announced that Scotland’s independent film and TV production companies will be able to apply for newly ring-fenced development support of between £3,000-£50,000 to develop creative and ambitious projects over the next 3-6 months to enable planning towards production when Government guidance allows. Read more here.


COVID-19: Nations and Regions resources and support (posted 08.04.2020)

We are working closely with our Pact Council Reps and screen agencies across the UK to keep indies up to date about the local support available to them. Find out more here.

COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund now open to applications (posted 08.04.2020)

The Film and TV Charity’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, developed in partnership with the BFI, is from today (8th April 2020) open for applications for a window of two weeks until 22nd April. The Charity has also announced a Repayable Grants Scheme to compliment the Fund. More information can be found here.


New LinkedIn Group for UK indies (posted 08.04.2020)

Following feedback from members, we have created a LinkedIn Group as a space for UK indies to communicate with each other, and to share information and best practice during this time. Join the group here.


COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme Q&A (updated 9:00am on 07.04.2020)

The Government is incentivising businesses to retain their employees by committing to pay up to 80% of salary costs of staff who are unable to work during the COVID-19 crisis. Based on the latest Government guidance about the scheme and how it will be implemented, we have put together a Q&A which we hope will answer some of the queries you may have about it.

Go to the Q&A.


Update on Business Interruption Loan Scheme for SMEs (posted 07.04.2020)

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has been significantly expanded along with changes to the scheme’s features and eligibility criteria. The changes mean even more smaller businesses across the UK impacted by the coronavirus crisis can access the funding they need. Importantly, access to the scheme has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS. Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the scheme.

Read more here.


Pact/Equity TV Agreement: suspending artists and force majeure update (posted 07.04.2020)

The Force Majeure provision under the Pact/Equity TV Agreement 2019 (provision T45) was not drafted with the current situation in mind – neither the extended duration of the force majeure event nor that every production would be affected simultaneously. For this reason, we approached Equity in an effort to find an alternative approach. Read more here.


Channel 4 announces £150m content budget cut (posted 08.04.2020)

The broadcaster expects to reduce its content budget by £150m, with £95m of further savings targeted across the organisation. They aim to maintain support for the creative sector with continued commissioning and ring-fenced spend and development funds for small, Nations and regions and BAME-led indies. Find out more here.


BBC doubles small indie fund, supercharges development (posted 06.04.2020)

The BBC has announced five new measures it is introducing to help maintain the ‘creative health and viability’ of the indie sector across the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their package of support, announced on Monday 6th April, includes a company-centric approach to impacted productions; doubling up investment in the Small Indie Fund; supercharging development; expanding BBC Three creative partnerships in other nations and regions; investment in archive rights. Find out more here.


ITV announces £500k development pot for indies (posted 06.04.2020)

ITV’s Director of Television, Kevin Logo has announced a new £500k development fund to support indie producers during the COVID-19 crisis. Find out more here.


Pact, PSBs and Sky propose new support solution for freelance workers paid by PAYE (Posted 06.04.2020)

Pact has joined with the PSBs and Sky to propose a catch-all solution to help freelancers who will potentially fall through the cracks under the Government’s current COVID-19 support schemes. In a joint letter sent to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden on Friday (3rd April), Pact, ITV, BBC, Sky, Channel 4 and Viacom thanked the Government for the actions it has taken to date, but highlighted that there is a category of TV workers who will not qualify for any of the current government assistance schemes.

Read more here.


Furlough leave letter templates and guidance (posted 31.03.2020)

Pact has drafted two letter templates which you can use to furlough your employees and workers, should they be eligible for the Government's COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme, as well as a step-by-step guide for how to furlough someone.

Access the templates and guidance here.


Webinar Briefing and Q&A (posted 30.03.2020)

We understand the current situation is incredibly challenging and it can be hard to keep up with developments whilst trying to keep your business running. That's why we are running a weekly webinar briefing and Q&A for Pact members in which we will round-up the latest sector-specific updates for you, and answer your questions.

The second briefing took place on Friday 3rd April 2020. If you were unable to join us live you can catch up with the recording here.

The first briefing took place on Friday 27th March. If you were unable to join us live you can catch up with the recording here.

Registration details for the next webinar will be shared here soon.


Mental health and wellbeing support (posted 31.03.2020)

These are strange times. The disruption to our regular way of life and uncertainty about what might happen to us - both personally and professionally - over the coming weeks and months can take an emotional toll.

Many Pact members also run their own businesses and will be concerned for the wellbeing of their employees and freelancers during this challenging time. Thankfully, there are a number of organisations who you can turn to for guidance and support should you, or someone you know, need it.

Read more here.


ScreenSkills offering free remote training (posted 30.03.2020)

A free package of remote and interactive training, online talks and masterclasses with industry leaders has been launched by ScreenSkills to support the industry workforce in up-skilling and staying connected during these difficult times.

Find out more here.


COVID-19 Self Employed Income Support Scheme (posted 27.03.2020)

On Thursday 26th March the Government announced a COVID-19 Self Employed Income Support Scheme. Read more about what it is and who is eligible here.


Multi-million pound pot to support creative businesses in Wales (posted 02.04.2020)

Announcement includes a £1m Creative Wales Fund which will provide additional support for the TV and publishing sector to allow companies to consider future opportunities, such as working on new content ideas for TV and new digital experiences.

Production companies in Wales can also apply to the Economic Resilience Fund for grants of up to £10,000 for micro businesses, and up to £100,000 for SMEs.

Read more here.


S4C announces £6m support for indies in Wales (posted 08.04.2020)

S4C has announced a package of measures worth up to £6 million for the independent production sector in Wales, including a rapid commissioning round and support for the production sector. Read more here.


Screen Scotland announces new funding and support (posted 30.03.2020)

In response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, Screen Scotland has announced new funding and support for Scotland’s screen sector, including bursaries for individuals and a single project development fund.

Find out more here.


Production (updated 17.03.2020)

We have put together three comprehensive documents to try to give Pact members the latest information relating to production:

1. We have pulled together all the published advice of the PSBs and Sky relating to COVID-19 and production:

Broadcasters' Advice to Producers on COVID-19

(Updated 17.03.2020)

2. From all the terms of trade with the PSBs and the collective agreements with the talent unions and guilds, we have detailed the force majeure clauses (if any); the suspension and overage provisions:

COVID-19 Guidance - Terms of Trade and Collective Agreements

(Updated 16.03.2020)

3. For Pact template agreements, we have put together a summary of force majeure and suspension/termination provisions contained in the director; producer/PD; crew (scripted); and crew (non-scripted) templates:

Pact Template Agreements Force Majeure - COVID-19 Guidance

(Updated 16.03.2020)

We are also scheduling meetings (largely by phone) with the Pact Business Affairs Committee (PBAC), made up of business affairs reps, and with Heads of production (HoPs) for drama and factual programming. The purpose of these meetings is to understand the behaviour of the broadcasters and particular issues as matters develop.

We will keep members updated with further developments in due course.


Force majeure: summary and latest position for producers (posted 25.03.2020)

For producers to be able to rely on force majeure to suspend or terminate a contract, there has to be an express provision dealing with force majeure.

Most Pact template agreements and collective agreements do address force majeure expressly.

Click here for more information about force majeure.


3 month extension for filing accounts (posted 26.03.2020)

If your accounts will be late because your company is affected by COVID-19, you can apply for an automatic and immediate 3 month extension to file your accounts.

For more information and guidance about how to apply, click here.


Pact/FAA negotiations - update (posted 30.03.2020)

Pact has been in negotiations with the Film Artistes Association (FAA) regarding the rates and the provisions of the Pact/FAA agreement for the Employment of Background Artistes, Stand-Ins and Doubles 2017. In light of disruption caused by COVID-19, any agreed terms (including rates) will not take effect until the negotiations have been finalised.

In the interim, the current rates will continue to apply after 1st April 2020, instead of the new terms and rates which will be agreed in due course. If you have any questions or concerns, please email Pact’s Business Affairs Paralegal, Annette Atanda: annette@pact.co.uk.


Pact call to Government to support the UK broadcasting and production sector (posted 17.03.2020)

Pact is calling on Government to adopt a range of measures to support one of the UK’s most successful domestic and export industries.

Firstly, to support SMEs, suspend all payments of HMRC liabilities for VAT, PAYE, NI and corporation tax and a business rates holiday for as long as necessary.

Secondly, to support our skilled freelance and self-employed workforce, simplify access and processes for state unemployment benefits, freeze all personal credit interest payments and delay the implementation of the flawed IR35 rules.

Thirdly, to support our domestic publicly-owned public service broadcasters, increase their borrowing limits to ensure they can support their programme budgets when the current hiatus on production comes to an end.

This is an unprecedented crisis and in order to ensure that the UK industry can recover and continue to be one of the world’s most successful audiovisual sectors the UK Government should do all that it can to help.


Government guidance (updated 26.03.2020)

We have compiled information about the Government's economic support for businesses, employees and freelancers as of Monday 23rd March 2020 here.

We have collated links to the Government’s latest Coronavirus guidance, including specifics for employers and businesses, as well as information about business continuity planning and how agreements with suppliers, crew, artists and so on may be impacted here.

ICO guidance on data protection during COVID-19 pandemic (posted 23.03.2020)

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has published guidance on data protection compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic, which can be found in full here.

The guidance states that the ICO will not penalise organisations in circumstances where they need to prioritise other areas or adapt their usual approach to compliance during this period.


Further Pact action

At Pact, we’re doing all that we can to ensure our members don’t miss out on important opportunities to hear from commissioners and buyers about what their content needs are and how to pitch them your ideas - even if you aren’t able to meet face-to-face.

Webinars and Podcasts on the Pact Growth Accelerator

As part of our on-going collaboration with Boom! PR, we’re working hard to line up additional webinar sessions and podcast recordings with buyers who were due to attend MipTV. We’ll be announcing upcoming sessions in the newsletter soon, and if you can’t listen live they will all be made available afterwards on the Pact Growth Accelerator.

Pact sessions with commissioners which have recently been added to the Accelerator include:

- Seniha Tunaboylu - Head of Content & Acquisitions, Viasat World

- Susanne Simpson - Executive Producer, Masterpiece

- Dermot Horan - Director of Co-Productions & Acquisitions, RTE

- Dan Korn - Vice President, A+E Networks UK

- Samantha Linton - Head of Original Content, Blue Ant Media

And you can find all of our recent webinar recordings here.

There are a whole host of resources available on our Growth Accelerator online platform beyond the webinars and podcasts, including Nations & Regions specific information; details of over 150 international buyers; insights into financing options and pitching tips, plus lots more.

We will also be sharing interviews and briefings from our Content Without Borders event which took place in early march via the Growth Accelerator shortly.

If you haven’t yet registered, it’s free and exclusively available to Pact members. All you need to do is sign up here.


UK Indies app refresh

The UK Indies platform is where UK production companies can share information and contact details with international buyers looking to licence formats, commission ideas or acquire programmes.

The app was set up by Pact over a decade ago with support from the Department for International Trade. Through promoting it to our contacts around the world at international trade shows and missions we have thousands of registered buyers from 63 countries using the platform.

The site is currently being redesigned to enable companies to upload their own content and information, whereas previously it relied on a third party provider to do so.  This will enable you to control what you put on the site and to make amendments yourself going forward. We will let you know as soon as the site is back up and ready for you to use, but in the meantime please ensure you are registered on the Pact Growth Accelerator.


Pact office closures and contacting staff

The Pact offices in London and Leeds have been closed until further notice. All Pact staff continue to work remotely and therefore we anticipate very little, if any, noticeable impact on our capacity to support Pact members.

More information and a list of Pact staff contact information can be found here.


Useful links

We’ve compiled a list of useful links for those working in the film and TV sector, including guidance from Pact, the Government, and screen sector bodies, which can be found here.


Top tips for working remotely

And finally, as working from home becomes the new norm, our comms officer Becky shares some of her top tips for remote working based on her extensive experience of doing so for Pact and other clients over the years.

Read her top tips here.

We understand that this is a very challenging time. As your trade body, we will do everything in our power to support you and your business. We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops further, and liaise with other key industry bodies on behalf of indies.