TV and film director Michael Apted has initiated the launch of a UK directors' guild to address what he views as 'the cynical disregard for the film-maker'.

Directors UK (D-UK) will officially launch in May with director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) as president, and writer/director Charles Sturridge (Brideshead Revisited) as the chair of its board.

Its vice-chairmen are Simon Berthon and Tim Sullivan, and board members include Peter Kosminsky, Brian Hill and Simon Curtis.

It is the first time that UK directors will benefit from a single organisation encompassing everything from pay and conditions to content rights.

Sturridge said: 'A very energetic and large group of directors have worked over the past 18 months to launch this new and vital organisation - a single, representative voice for all UK film, TV and new media directors.'

He added: 'We are at a revolutionary moment in the dissemination of film programming and it is vital that the directors' voice is articulate, unanimous and clear. D-UK will speak for directors' creative and economic rights.'

Apted, who began his career at Granada and is now based in LA, said he was inspired by the effectiveness of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) union.

He has been president of the DGA for the past five years. Having experienced shooting on both sides of the Atlantic (Rome, The World is Not Enough, Gorky Park) Apted said he was ideally placed to compare directors' working conditions.

'Working here is much the same as working in the US in terms of the level of talent and craft matching up. What doesn't match is the way crews are treated.

'I hadn't realised how little protection there was in the UK. It motivated me to look into the situation of my fellow directors, and that was shocking news- underpaid, under-organised, with barely a voice at any negotiating table. D-UK will be this voice.'

He added: 'People here have no discernible creative rights, and no real rights in the after-use of their work.' D-UK has been created out of the Directors' and Producers' Rights Society (DPRS), which previously focused only on rights exploitation.

The new body will have in excess of 3,000 members. Those behind the initiative described it as 'a big sea change in broadcasting' which the majority of leading directors in the UK are backing. However, they would not be drawn on details of their agenda ahead of the launch.