News & Events

Professional Risks: Understanding TV & Film E&O: Defamation

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Your client is a production company who creates documentaries, their next project is a series which looks to explore growing industries – delving into each market’s history and the key brands within it.

But have they considered the legal implications of the production? And are they protected against claims that could arise against them?

Failure to secure adequate insurance to cover these risks could result in costly financial consequences.

In our latest claims example, to illustrate the necessity of E&O insurance for TV & Film production companies, we explore the process of producing a documentary and the complicated and costly legal issues that can arise. 

Understanding TV & Film E&O Defamation from Tokio Marine HCC on Vimeo.


The Background

Gripping Documentaries is a UK based television production company, their newest project is a series which explores the growth of several key industries from Fairtrade farming to organic clothing.

The series is researched meticulously, combining publicly available data, interviews with key industry players and the production company’s own findings about specific businesses and the role they play.

Gripping documentaries approaches all those participating in the documentary for their consent and clears any content for potential intellectual property breaches. They also consider whether to use some material on a Fair Use/Fair Dealing basis after discussion with their own lawyer.

During this research phase, Gripping Documentaries investigates several major brands within the organic clothing industry. Throughout the course of this investigation, they discover that a brand named ‘LightTree’ isn’t using organically sourced materials as they claim.

Gripping Documentaries chooses to incorporate this information into the series, highlighting LightTree’s questionable business practices in an episode.

After the episode is aired on television, Gripping Documentaries receives a call from LightTree’s legal department the following day.

LightTree claims that the documentary has resulted in reputational damage to the brand. As a result, they are suing Gripping Documentaries for defamation and asking for £5 million in damages.

The Solution

Fortunately, Gripping Documentaries are protected against defamation and other torts related to disparagement of character and reputation by their TV & Film E&O insurance policy.

After receiving the call from LightTree’s legal department, they notify their insurer TMHCC who step in to assist them.

TMHCC instruct one of their trusted and experienced panel lawyers to mitigate any claim and manage any exposure to LightTree.

After careful consideration, TMHCC explain their recommendations to Gripping Documentaries on how to proceed. With TMHCC’s support, they decide on how to best settle the claim, finding a resolution that satisfied all parties involved.

Of course, this is a theoretical example, but our team of underwriters and in-house claims professionals are always on hand to provide advice and answer any questions that you may have relating to your policy with us. 

Our Product

Our TV & Film E&O insurance is designed for production companies creating and distributing content for cinematic, television and online release as well as podcasts, music videos and theatrical and indemnifies them against a myriad of risks.

For those interested, you can learn more about our solution here – or contact our Media, Film & TV Underwriting Manager Ros Breese at [email protected].