Bruce Anderson talks about the impact of TV-AM on independent television as a closed shop

Well, I think what happened was, for a long time we had the company over a barrel because we had a closed shop. Once the Thatcher government in effect had dropped that by the 80s and we didn’t have that, and I think Andrew Quinn said we were going to get our own back after the long strike and the big pay rise that went with it, I think they were determined that they were really sort things out locally – there was potential for a lot more local negotiation and local agreements. I think (Tony) Brill was brought in as the hard man to do it – and he succeeded. He did succeed in all fairness. So yes, a lot of things did go through and I would say that I certainly recognised what had happened in the States where the big major network companies had carved the wall virtually because of satellite television and home box office, all these things… I think I recognised that those changes were inevitable.

But did the unions create rules which were…?

Well, they didn’t create rules, there were many rules in existence that were very costly for the company, and the company wanted to get rid of them, and it was at a time when we had new organisers working in ITV – Sandra Horne was one who wanted to chivvy the shops into saying, “If you don’t agree with this, you’ll be destroyed.” Because you won’t have the muscle, you won’t be able to take people out on strike in the future in the same way, and the companies could use… I’ll tell you what I think… I’m trying to get all these things… it was the fact that breakfast television, TV-am, I think that was the straw that broke the trade union’s back. Up until that strike, we had held the mechanical reins of broadcasting, but at TV-am, was it Bruce Gyngell, proved that that didn’t need to be the case. You could put out some second rate television but you could keep on air, you know, he could keep his doorman and secretaries operating cameras for what they needed, so I think that was the one that broke the trade union’s back, as it were, and there was a realisation from that TV-am strike, which again was an extended, painful business, I think that had happened… that revolved around that incredible business of a crew that worked for about three weeks non-stop, and they kept breaking the 10-hour agreement, and eventually they ended up with something like two and a half years’ pay for three weeks’ work.

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