WGA survey of reality show writers says writers lose $38,400 a year in overtime

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.” 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. If the average writer works 32 weeks per year, he or she loses $38,400 in overtime pay, annually.”

Beyond that, “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.

Harsh Reality [PDF] and Harsh Reality: Study Exposes Widespread Wage and Hour Violations in Reality TV [WGA]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.