European broadcasters cut pay, launch funds as Covid-19 bites

European broadcasters continue to scrambl
e to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the UK’s ITV unveiling a £500k ($615k) development fund while Channel 4 and Spain’s Atresmedia cut pay.

ITV’s director of TV Kevin Lygo revealed that the fund is designed to accelerate the search for new ideas and content for the channel to play in the later part of 2020 and in 2021.

The announcement comes just a day after fellow UK broadcaster the BBC made a similar pledge to support indies.

Kevin Lygo

Lygo said: “ITV’s success is based on the ideas that are brought to us by indies from across the UK and we don’t want that to stop. We have this money specifically available to ramp up development over the next few months so we can hit the ground running when current restrictions are lifted.

“The commissioning teams are willing to increase the number of virtual meetings they have in order to build up an exciting slate over the next few months – so if you have an idea for us, especially in the unscripted space, we are in a position to help fund that immediately.

“We want to reassure the indie community – small or big, regional or London – that ITV is very much open for business and we have the resource to invest in ideas for the channel.”

Atresmedia & C4 cut & balance

Meanwhile in Spain, domestic broadcaster Astresmedia is cutting back the salaries of its board of directors by 40% and slashing the salaries of its top presenters on flagship channels Antena 3 and La Sexta to help mitigate the damage of Coronavirus.

The news, which emerged last week, came amidst falling advertising revenues due to the pandemic, with leading presenters accepting wage cuts to help keep others at the media group in their jobs.

Top brass at the UK’s Channel 4 have taken similar measures, with executives, including CEO Alex Mahon, set to receive salary cuts of 20%.

C4 is understood to currently be in talks with the UK government about accessing its £75m ($92m) emergency credit facility should its cash reserves run out. The facility was arranged in 2018 and exists to provide support in unforeseen circumstances.

The talks come just two months after the broadcaster paid out millions in staff bonuses in February, before the UK entered lockdown, following a strong performance in 2019.

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