UK Broadcasters Detail New TV Production Guidelines

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LONDON—A group of U.K.-based broadcasters have issued a new set of guidelines for how the TV industry can return to production while attempting to minimize the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky, STV and ITN—along with the Association for Commercial Broadcasters and On-Demand Services, and producers’ body Pact—have released a five-page document that is meant to build on industry guidelines, highlighted by the establishment of what are being called “close contact cohorts.”

When on set, there are often unavoidable interactions that cannot meet social distance requirements. Taking a page from the British Film Commission’s “Working Safely During COVID-19 in Film and High-End TV Drama Production” guide, closed contact cohorts would be pairs and/or small groups that would be permitted to interact in much closer contact. It can include cast and crew, and would include a screening plan—weekly testing alongside other daily screening checks—that the group believes will minimize the likelihood that someone with the virus will be within the cohort.

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“This approach offers a reasonable and sensible level of risk mitigation but it cannot eliminate risk,” the guideline says.

However, the group does say that this approach should only be considered when all other mitigation options are not feasible, and should be used in addition to, not as a replacement of, wider risk mitigation and hygiene measures previously established.

Some Additional elements of the close contact cohorts (CCC) include restricting close contact periods to the shortest time possible; each CCC must be kept to the minimum number of people possible and only interact with their group; CCC members should be easily identifiable (i.e. color groups); CCC members must adhere to all other social distancing guidelines when not with group; and more.

In the event that there is a positive test with a member of the CCC, all members would be required to self-isolate for 14 days and be symptom free before resuming activity on production.

The CCC process currently applies to England and Northern Ireland, and will go into effect in Scotland as of July 30. However, the group does say that local restrictions from government and/or public health institutes already in place must also be considered.

The full CCC guideline (opens in new tab) is available for review online.