WGA Says Reality TV Writers Lack Benefits

Striking television writers are promoting a newly released report asserting that reality TV writers work long hours without overtime pay, health insurance and other benefits.

The study, conducted by the Goodwin Simon Victoria Research firm, asserts that most reality writers don’t meet the standards of salaried employees, and that they should be eligible for overtime and other benefits as hourly workers. The report, based on interviews with 300 writers of reality shows, says that 88% of those writers work more than 40 hours a week, but only 9% get overtime pay.

The writers reported that fewer than 12% get health care benefits, 5% are offered 401K benefits and many are required to work through meal breaks at least once a week. Some of these working conditions violate California state law. The study did not cite specific productions or producers.

The study was publicized by the Writers Guild of America West, which said the union is committed to changing working conditions in reality TV.

The WGA does not represent many reality writers but would like to organize them.

The WGA also said that the Service Employees International Union will launch a month-long billboard campaign Nov. 27. The signs will state the union's solidarity with the striking writers.