Employment in Broadcasting Organizations

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Equal Opportunities

The broadcasting organizations all declare themselves to be equal opportunities employers, but few can fail to notice that the vast majority of those occupying influential, decision-making positions are white males. All the heads of the ITV companies are men, for example, as are more that 90 per cent of heads of department, senior producers and correspondents. Less than 5 per cent of camera operators, sound technicians and engineers are women, but among secretaries and production assistants, there is scarcely a man to be found. Ethnic minorities are even more poorly represented. In an attempt to redress this balance, some companies have adopted policies of positive discrimination and even set up training schemes specifically aimed at these under-represented groups.

Pay and Conditions of Employment

It is difficult to give meaningful information on salaries because they vary from one company to another and change regularly. Also, many salaried staff receive considerably more than their

Most PAs are recruited as trainees and many vacancies for traineeships are filled by people already in broadcasting. Many applicants are graduates with secretarial experience and all have had a good general education.

Program Director

In television, the program director is in charge of the shooting of a program and the direction of performers and the technical crew.

TV drama productions involve detailed shot-by-shot work. The director places the actors and discusses their interpretation of the roles, and, after consultation with the technical experts, decides on lighting effects, camera angles and so on. When shooting has been completed, the director supervises post-production work, such as editing and sound dubbing. In radio drama, the director rehearses the actors, selects sound effects and, again, supervises post-production. In a live broadcast such as a news bulletin, the program director follows a running order, selects pictures from those offered by the camera operators or from videotape and relays instructions to the presenters.

Most vacancies are filled by internal applicants with substantial production experience.

Property Buyer

Property/production buyers buy or hire movable items or 'props' for a studio set. They may have to supply potted plants for a chat-show studio, food for a sitcom or period furniture for a costume drama, for example. Nearly all properly buyers have had theatrical experience or have worked their way up the props department.

Property Staff

Property staff works alongside the stage hands and look after the props on a set. No special qualifications are necessary, though GCSEs or equivalents in English, maths and technical drawing would be useful, as would a clean driving license. This work can involve strenuous physical activity. Experience in theatre would be an advantage, but vacancies are rare.

Script Editor

Script editors work in drama departments in close consultation with program producers. Their duties can include commissioning writers, finding new writing talent, conducting research and re-writing material. In the case of a long-running serial, where a number of writers are needed to contribute different episodes, sometimes over a period of years, the script editor ensures that each is written in a uniform style and that plot and character details remain consistent. The script editor may also be responsible for developing storylines (coming up with plot ideas in consultation with the producer and the other writers and deciding how much of the plot should be revealed in each episode).

Essential qualities for the job are tact, patience, an excellent memory and a genuine love of reading and drama. Script editors generally have a literary background and have worked in the theatre, reading and reporting on unsolicited scripts.

Secretary and Clerk

There is a huge range of jobs for secretaries and clerks in broadcasting; they are employed in every department. Although secretarial work in a broadcasting organization can provide a rewarding career, many people see these posts as a springboard to more demanding senior jobs, particularly in production, and for this reason they attract a high proportion of graduate applicants. However, competition for production posts is extremely tough and many require specialized knowledge and experience, so secretarial work is not necessarily the best way to gain that experience. In addition, all staff are expected to remain in their first post for a reasonable length of time before applying for a transfer.

Secretaries may work for one person or for several, alone or in groups. They need accurate shorthand (80 to 100 words per minute), typing (30 to 50 words per minute) and word processing skills, good educational qualifications, common sense, initiative and a good telephone manner.

Clerks do such jobs as handling mail, photocopying, printing and filing. Those who can type (30 to 35 words per minute) or have an aptitude for figures have more opportunities open to them.

Set Designer

Every television program, from a panel game to a drama, has a set which has been designed to create a certain ambience. Designers work with producers and directors and must understand the technical processes of production and have a feeling for how the content of the program should be visually interpreted. The work requires knowledge of the history of art and architecture. Many studio sets are viewed in close-up and from different angles, so a great deal of planning goes into them. Designers have to take into account the positioning and movement of performers, props, cameras, camera cables, microphone booms and lighting. They normally construct a scale model of a set for use in program meetings and produce simplified architectural drawings from which costings can be made. When a set design has been agreed, plans are sent to the workshop and construction begins.

Set designers almost invariably begin as assistant designers, having obtained from Art College a degree or its recognized equivalent in interior design, art and design, stage design or architecture work includes painting sets and backcloths, and 'faking' effects (for example, a marble floor). Some of the work of a scenic artist is very skilled and applicants for such posts need a degree in fine art painting as well as a thorough knowledge of styles in architecture, painting and furniture. Painters do less specialized work.
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