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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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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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