Creative Rights Partnership (2012)

In April 2012 Directors UK and the BBC announced the launch of the Creative Rights Partnership, which applies to all directors working on in-house BBC productions.

It was a Directors UK-led initiative with Charles Sturridge, Paul Greengrass, Peter Kosminsky and others first speaking to Mark Thompson to discuss the role of the director in television. Since then Directors UK had been in negotiation with the BBC to find a way to address the industry wide issues facing directors which were seen to be eroding the role of the director and inhibiting creativity and innovation. The Directors UK-BBC Creative Rights Partnership is the result of these discussions.

In the Creative Rights Partnership the BBC is acknowledging the significance of the director’s role in generating the best quality content. By setting out the rights and responsibilities for directors it will ensure that directors have the creative responsibility on projects to be able to achieve best quality content and to incentivise and inspire them to create the best and most innovative programmes for viewers.

The commitment from both sides was driven by a genuine wish by both parties to support the creative community of directors and by doing so support and develop the creative strength of the BBC and the wider UK television industry.

It is intended that the BBC-Directors UK Creative Rights Partnership will be rolled out to other broadcasters and production companies as the industry standard for directors working on productions. Both ITV and PACT have committed to good faith negotiations with Directors UK on their own versions.

Creative Rights Partnership (2012) Latest

I'm delighted that Directors UK has found a way of working with the BBC to allow directors today the same creative rights. I hope the rest of the industry will follow their lead.

The Creative Rights partnership is great news for the industry as a whole. For directors to deliver the best work for our audiences we need to be given creative freedom and responsibility. For too long the creative role of the director has been eroded and this is something we at Directors UK were keen to see corrected. Drawing up the creative rights statements with the BBC is a huge step forward and I commend the BBC for recognising the central role directors play in delivering quality in all programmes. My career has been shaped by the support and creative scope I was given as a young television director. I'm delighted that Directors UK has found a way of working with the BBC to allow directors today the same creative rights. I hope the rest of the industry will follow their lead.

Paul Greengrass, Directors UK President

The Creative Rights Partnership applies to all genres, with separate documents for drama and factual. The documents will sit alongside the existing BBC standard contracts, offering clear statements about what directors can expect when working on in-house BBC productions.

Below is a more detailed analysis of what exactly the Creative Rights Partnership will mean for you. However, if you have any questions at all, please contact the office at [email protected].

What is the Creative Rights Partnership with the BBC?

Directors UK and the BBC have agreed detailed and comprehensive rights and responsibilities for directors working on BBC in-house productions.

Details of the partnership have been outlined in two documents called ‘Joint Statements’ – one for drama and one for factual – these set out the agreed roles and responsibilities for directors. Click below to read them.

Directors UK and the BBC will also cooperate on a number of initiatives to support the career skills and talent development of directors.

The Partnership will also mean regular, high-level interaction between the BBC and Directors UK on major strategic issues including Delivering Quality First, programme strategy, talent development, compliance and diversity in commissioning.

Creative Rights and ITV

Negotiations with ITV to establish a similar Creative Rights Partnership began in late 2012 and are in progress with a number of positive meetings already held between Directors UK, leading members, and ITV Studios executives.

What does the Creative Rights Partnership mean for directors?

It is a crucial restatement of directors’ rights and responsibilities.

It redefines the relationship between directors and the BBC, recognising the central role of the director on a production, and putting directors back at the heart of programme-making.

The documents offer clear statements about what a director can expect when working on a BBC in-house programmes and what is expected of them.

These are to be implemented as part of all BBC in-house drama and non-fiction productions going forwards.

More generally it reinforces the concept that directors are vital to the creative and financial success of a production and act as creative leaders.

It provides a platform for Directors UK and the BBC to tackle and resolve other vital issues such as directors' pay.

What do the ‘Creative Rights’ cover?

The documents cover various aspects of the directors’ role including:

  • Affirming the director’s copyright in their programmes.
  • Setting out the requirement for advance disclosure and consultation on key creative elements and key production information – budgets, schedules, key personnel, scripts and casting (for fiction), contributors (for factual) – to ensure the director is sufficiently well-briefed to understand the commission and lead the team in delivering it.
  • For drama directors it sets out agreed minimum durations for pre-production periods and receipt of scripts.
  • For directors to be consulted on any changes to the schedule and to be able to propose changes.
  • Setting out the directors’ rights and responsibilities through all the stages of production and post-production, including the exclusive right to make an uninterrupted first cut.
  • For drama directors it recognises that the director controls the set on shoots, all notes are to be given through the director.
  • Options for the director to create re-versions and re-edits.
  • Options for the director of pilots/first series to direct further series. For factual directors it also makes provision for recognition of directors involved in creating format points in the first of a series of formatted programmes.
  • For factual directors it also addresses the issue of extra payment for directors performing substantial additional roles.
  • Rights to programme credits.

What about directors’ pay?

Directors UK is actively campaigning to improve directors pay across all genres. You can find out more information about our Pay Campaign here.

Why is it important to have a Creative Rights Partnership?

  • Creative leaders have a vital role as innovators generating new content, and are key to achieving success for broadcasters and content producers. It benefits broadcasters and producers to become places that attract the best directing talent.
  • Directors are critical to decisions about spending on screen. A director who is properly supported during a production will be able to deliver a better end product.
  • Empower the director and you can get higher quality for your money.
  • The Creative Rights Partnership aims to give back to directors the confidence, recognition and support they need to lead productions successfully.
  • Some of the issues the Creative Rights Partnership will help to address include:
    • Fair rewards and respect for rights will incentivise directors to produce better work and encourage them to remain committed to creating the best work for British producers and broadcasters.
    • Restoration of the authority of the director will give productions a clearer creative vision and direction.
    • The directors are in a key position to improve the efficiency of productions

How will it be enforced?

A ground-breaking new arrangement like this is bound to take a little time to bed in. While we expect the BBC and its executives to act in the letter and spirit of the Partnership, there may be times when this does not happen. It is vital that both Directors UK and the BBC do our utmost to make this Partnership work effectively in all our interests.

Directors UK is not a large organisation, so we need the help of all directors to inform us if the new Partnership is not working as it should.

If you feel that you are not being treated in accordance with the Creative Rights Partnership documents you can raise your concerns directly with your point of contact at the BBC, or you can contact Directors UK who will follow this up on their behalf with designated senior BBC executives.

We will be reviewing the operation of the Partnership with the BBC to ensure it remains effective and fit for purpose.

What other issues will you be looking at next?

The Creative Rights partnership creates the platform for a much deeper dialogue with the BBC and the start of a new relationship with them to discuss issues on behalf of directors.

Our first priority was to address the creative issues affecting the role of a director working on productions, impacting their ability to do their job – i.e. the creative rights.

The establishment of a partnership means we can discuss other major strategic issues e.g. talent development, DQF, programme strategy, diversity.

In Factual productions this will also mean reviewing the extent to which directors are being required to carry out additional notes when no extra fee is offered.

What shall I do if I believe my Creative Rights are being compromised? 

If you do not believe your Creative Rights are being properly upheld as according to the documents below, we want to hear from you. Please contact the office at [email protected], or call on 020 7240 0009.


"This Partnership is great news for directors, for the BBC and for viewers as protecting directors at the centre of programme making will ensure the best possible work is delivered to the audience"
Simon Curtis

"The Creative Rights Partnership re-establishes basic rights of British directors that had been steadily eroded over the past twenty years and firmly puts the director back centre stage in production. This is a crucial and timely agreement that gives proper recognition to the craft and responsibility of directing "
Susanna White, Directors UK Board Member

"This excellent joint statement agreed by Directors UK and the BBC has shed a bright light on the grey area of our responsibilities and rights as directors, with a concise set of guidelines for all to see. I can see this only benefiting directors and producers alike."
Toby Haynes

"This Partnership is the single most important step taken to reverse the erosion of directors rights in the last decade. The Creative Rights Agreement is the first step in putting directors back in their rightful place: at the centre of the creative process in the British Film and Television Industry."
Paul Elston, Directors UK Board Member

"The Creative Rights Agreement with the BBC is a big step in the right direction for the whole team behind the scenes in both factual and fictional programme making - giving the director clear creative guidelines will enhance quality and ensure the best use of resources. The next aim is to extend these principles across the whole industry."
Robin Sheppard, Directors UK Board Member

"This Partnership is plain common sense, and in no way indulges the director at the expense of the production. It helps producers get the best and the most from the director, in fact its guidelines are so basic that many producers will find they already comply. Those who don't will benefit from a more joined-up workflow by doing so - not just for the director but for the entire production team as well."
Dan Reed

The Creative Rights Partnership is fantastic news for all directors - in fact for anyone who cares about film and television in Britain. This isn't just the small print on our contracts, its official recognition of the critical role of the director in all productions. The sooner the agreement is rolled out beyond the BBC to all other British producers, the better.
Chris Durlacher 

"The Creative Rights Partnership is a major step forward for directors, for the first time recognising our vital contribution in the creation of distinctive, successful productions and opening a new chapter in the relationship between Directors UK and the BBC."
Dan Clifton

"For too long directors' creative rights have been eroded and diminished and for some time, directors have had serious concerns about the damaging knock on effect this has had on our working conditions and on the work itself. So I am delighted that Directors UK have taken a major step to reverse this situation by initiating a new partnership with the BBC which aims to give clarity and structure to all issues that affect our creative rights in both drama and factual fields. In the future this can only lead to better working relationships with the BBC and a better quality of creative output, allowing us to get on with what we do best. I'm sure I speak for us all in expressing sincere thanks to all involved in getting us to this crucial stage."
Mandy Chang 

The Creative Rights Partnership is not just important, it is fundamental and marks a sea change in our position at work at every level and grade.

We have all been there: late scripts, unrealistic budgets, close to impossible schedules. We have all felt that sense of being put in an impossible position and then having to take the blame when the end product isn’t all that it promised to be. And we all know that in a highly competitive industry our strike rate is everything.

I got involved in Directors UK and the Creative Rights negotiation in particular because I felt the situation for directors had become critical. Talent was being abused and, importantly, what should have been good work turned out to be average.

Two and a half years later we have an agreement that goes a long towards changing that. For the first time we have with the BBC – and in time will roll it out across TV generally – a simple and clear way of defining what is expected of us and what is expected of our employers. It will make a difference both to us, and the quality of the work we make.

It is, obviously, an exciting document but it will only be as good or as useful as we make it. It requires directors right across the industry to work with Directors UK in ensuring that it is properly adopted. The Creative Rights Partnership is not just important, it is fundamental and marks a sea change in our position at work at every level and grade.
Paul Unwin, Directors UK Board Member

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