Reality TV producers, writers lose $40 million a year in unpaid overtime, Writers Guild says

The Writers Guild of America East says that reality TV show producers and crew members are owed an average of $30,000 a year for unpaid overtime and a lack of breaks, which totals something like $40 million a year in the industry.

This new survey “found that 84% of nonfiction TV producers and writers work more than 40 hours a week almost every week, while 85% never receive overtime pay. More than 50% of the 315 people who responded said they had worked 80 hours or more in a week,” The New York Daily News reports. The story cites one example, Pawn Stars whose producers and writers–again, how that is defined is not clear–were paid $2,136 a week, and it compares that to the $6,712 a week that those who work on Royal Pains earn.

It’s not clear how “producers” or “writers” are defined here, though the Writers Guild has for years been trying to get those who work as story producers and editors classified as writers. It previously attempted to unionize them, and sued in 2005, a lawsuit that was settled in 2009, with networks paying more than $4 million.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.