Some Important Job Descriptions in Radio and Television Companies

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The job descriptions that follow are presented in an order rather than, say, divided into radio and television jobs. This is because many posts are common to both media. The job titles given here will vary from one organization to another, as will the precise areas of responsibility and entry requirements. It is also worth remembering that these descriptions are only indicative: none is an exact description of a particular post with a specific company.

Accountant

There are two kinds of work for accountants in broadcasting organizations. Financial accountants help to prepare and control long- and medium-term company and departmental budgets, provide financial reports and audits, supervise wage, salary and expense payments and manage pension funds. Program accountants provide management with information on the state of program budgets and what different departments are spending. Program accountants need a thorough knowledge of how programs are made in order to estimate and monitor production costs. They often work closely with program directors.



Government legislation in the 1980s brought the age of the closed shop to an end, and the free market philosophy now embraces the British broadcasting industry like any other. The broadcasting trade unions have been forced to reassess their role and, although many traditional collective bargaining arrangements have been weakened or terminated, the unions have found new ways of representing their members, for example in matters of contract law, insurance, taxation, debt recovery, health and safety, professional standards and vocational training. Many employers still regard union membership as a reliable indication of someone's skill and experience in the industry.

The unions most closely involved with broadcasting are: the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph & Theatre Union (BECTU); the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU); the British Actors Equity Association (Equity); the Musicians Union (MU); the National Union of Journalists (NUJ); and the Writers Guild of Great Britain. All these unions belong to the Federation of Entertainment Unions.

Public Relations Staff

Public relations staff present the company to the public. They supervise and prepare publicity material, liaise with the community, promote programs and issue press statements. Experience in journalism or advertising is good preparation for work in a PR department, although most companies stipulate that applicants should hold professional qualifications.

Radio Studio Manager

Studio managers are responsible for seeing that the radio producer's and director's instructions are carried out, in terms of setting up the studio for recording and transmission, checking equipment, adjusting sound balance controls, monitoring sound quality, running tapes and discs at the right moment and coordinating the people participating in the program (who might include actors, musicians, a studio audience or interviewees). They have an important and demanding job which requires creative flair, technical competence, organizing ability and a cool head.

Studio managers usually start as trainees and then specialize in, for example, drama, current affairs or music broadcasts. They may work in a studio or from an outside broadcast unit, on live or recorded programs.

The BBC advertises when there is a need to recruit new staff. Applicants for traineeships should be able to demonstrate some kind of practical involvement in relevant activities.

Airtime Sales Staff (commercial sector only)

Radio and television companies whose revenue comes from the sale of advertising time either employ an in-house team to sell airtime or contract a specialist company to do the job. Sales coordinators negotiate the sale of airtime, take bookings and see that 'slots' are filled; sales (or marketing) executives are responsible for attracting new business; sales research staff carry out and interpret market research; traffic staff monitor the make-up of commercial breaks and arrange for the receipt and delivery of advertisements. Trainees for these posts are recruited externally and applicants should have good A levels, a degree or equivalent. Advertising agency experience would be beneficial. Television commercials are made by independent production companies in conjunction with advertising agencies, although quite a lot of radio commercials are made in-house.

Announcer

Announcers - also known as continuity announcers - provide the links between and within programs. They also project the image of the station, so different companies require very different people. Generally, though, announcers should have a well-modulated voice, a warm, friendly personality and, for television, an attractive appearance. Their work usually includes writing all their own continuity scripts, but it can also involve interviewing, reading scripted commentaries, news bulletins and even short advertisements. Most announcers have had an A level or higher education and, increasingly, previous media experience, such as in journalism. They frequently work from self-operated studios. basic pay each month because of overtime, regional weightings, shift allowances and so forth are added on. Union members, of course, will have their rates of pay and conditions of work negotiated by the unions and management. These few examples were quoted early in 1994: BBC technical operations trainees start at £8,000 upwards; direct entry engineers £10,750 upwards; production trainees £13,500; news trainees £12,500; local radio reporters £11,500. These are basic salaries, and allowances are often paid in addition. In general, all that can be said is that salaries in broadcasting compare favorably with those in other sectors.

A great many people who work in television and radio do not have permanent, pensionable jobs, but have a contract for a single program or series. This is a growing trend and applies as much to the presenters and actors who 'front' programs (many of whom do a lot of work outside radio and television), as it does to camera operators, directors, researchers and designers etc.
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