Reed Smith Client Alerts

As lockdown measures are eased, the UK government has given production companies the green light to start filming again. In order to support the industry, the major UK broadcasters have joined forces with the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA) and the Producer’s Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), and on 18th May 2020 issued new guidance to help address the risk of COVID-19 on set and enable a safe return to production in the UK (the Guidance).

Authors: Henry Birkbeck

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The Guidance reflects broader government guidelines around safe working conditions, and will be updated as the lockdown eases further, government advice evolves and feedback is provided from being on set, but there are already many implications that those across the industry should consider. For now, the Guidance is split into two parts: (i) basic requirements for producers (in conjunction with their commissioning broadcaster), and (ii) key areas to consider when assessing risk on productions, with suggested controls to implement. 

Under the Guidance, producers will need to assess COVID-19 risks and record how they are managing those risks in a dedicated risk assessment document. Commissioning broadcasters are also advised to engage with producers around how these risks are assessed and managed. 

Consequently, broadcasters’ agreements with production companies will likely require updating to take account of these additional obligations, and pro forma chain-of-title documents may also need to be updated. Financing agreements may be updated as well, requiring assurances that appropriate assessments have been completed, or even requesting copies of those assessments and imposing consequences should producers fail to comply. A bank’s credit committee, for example, may be far more concerned with on-set risk assessments now than they would have been before the pandemic.