Wednesday, November 28, 2007

WGA surveys reality show writers

According to a survey of 303 reality TV story writers and producers “writing jobs in reality television are characterized by long hours, almost no benefits, inconsistent meal breaks and inaccurate record-keeping,” according to the WGAw, which commissioned the survey.

Goodwin Simon Victoria Research’s study [PDF] found that “91% of reality TV writers receive no overtime pay,” but “88% of reality TV writers work more than 40 hours a week." On average reality TV writers on broadcast networks work 60 hours per week, while reality TV writers on cable networks work about 55 hours per week. Of those surveyed, "86 percent don’t get health insurance from their respective networks or production companies, and 18 percent don’t have insurance.” Overall, “the average pay range for reality writers was $2,000 to $2,500 per week. Based on an average weekly rate of $2,000, writers are losing $1,200 per week in overtime pay."

Basic facts:
  • Only 3% of reality writers are given the job title of "writer." Others include story producer, story editor, segment producer, and others.
  • Reality TV writers "spend an average of 18 weeks working on a particular production." On average, they work 32 weeks in reality TV anually.
  • 70% of reality TV writers work on productions for cable networks, while the other 30% work for broadcast networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, etc.)
  • "Almost 70% of reality writers are under the age of 40."

Also, “reality production companies may be committing multiple violations of wage and hour law based on the pervasive employment practices” such as a lack of overtime and meal breaks,” the WGA said. The organization has been working to unionize reality show story writers.

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