Episodic Quotes: A Guide for Writer-Producer Fees

The WGA is doing everything it can think of to help currently agentless writers (just about all of us, for obvious reasons) during this staffing season.

To that end, the Writers Guild of America West has released a schedule of writer-producer fees showing the median and maximum amounts your peer writer-producers currently are bringing in, so, you know, we can ask for it too.

Whether you’re the kind of person who asks nicely or the one who demands, this should help your negotiation. (We just hope it doesn’t drive the unstaffed writers into a suicidal frenzy.)

Here ya go:

Dear Member,

With a unique staffing season underway, the Guild is working to provide members and their representatives with as much information and support in finding work and negotiating contracts. We hope the following data is helpful in getting writers the best deals possible.

Episodic Quotes: A Guide for Writer-Producer Fees

Hundreds of Guild members provided information about their episodic quotes during the 2017-2018 season. Going into staffing for the 2019-2020 season, the following episodic quotes, adjusted to reflect the annual minimum increases in the MBA, are intended to serve as a guide for negotiating deals in the coming season.

The median quotes of course remain too low and we must do everything we can to increase writer pay. They’re so low that writers at lower levels can end up working at WGA scale depending on the number of weeks worked per episode. To prevent that result, writers at Co-Producer or Producer levels may consider negotiating a set weekly rate or scale plus 10% or 15% rather than an episodic fee.

When the agencies agree to provide us with all of your contracts and data, the Guild intends to make this information offering more robust, with detailed annual breakdowns by market and half-hour and one-hours. Agencies providing all contracts and data to the Guild is a critical provision of the Code of Conduct for precisely the purpose of arming members and their representatives with the information needed to make better deals.

Span Protections – What You Need To Do

Another way you may be protected from the problem of working too many weeks on short-season series and having your overscale episodic fee driven down to minimum as a result is the span provision in the MBA. This provision, which took effect on May 1, 2018, establishes overscale weekly rates and additional compensation for extra weeks of work for many writers. But do you qualify?

If you are negotiating a new deal, you are covered by this provision if you meet the following criteria:

  1. Your series has a full season order (including any pilot) of 14 or fewer episodes (12 or fewer on broadcast).
  2. You are at the Co-Producer level or higher.
  3. Your episodic fee multiplied by the number of episodes ordered is less than $350,000 for the season. (Script fees do not count.)
  4. Your contract provides for episodic fees, not a weekly rate.

If you meet all of these criteria, how does the provision work? Your episodic fees pay for a maximum of 2.4 weeks per episode. So, for example, a guarantee of 10 episodic fees pays for 24 weeks of work. After the weeks covered by your episodic fees run out, the employer must pay you for each additional week (or part of a week) you work. The rate they must pay is an overscale weekly rate, defined as your episodic fee divided by 2.4. For instance, if your quote is $24,000 per episode, your overscale weekly rate is $10,000.

If the span protections don’t apply to you because your episodic fee multiplied by the number of episodes is greater than $350,000, you should insist on including similar protections into your deal anyway. You can use the span provision as precedent for doing so. Ask your representative to negotiate language in your deal that limits the number of weeks you will work for your episodic rate or that establishes a weekly rate. Writers at Co-EP level and higher should have weekly rates of at least $10,000 to $20,000. The WGA intends to improve the span provision in the 2020 MBA negotiation.

Need Help? Contact Us!

The Guild is here if you need help negotiating a deal or reviewing a contract. Call the Agency Department at 323-782-4502 or email agency@wga.org.

Don’t forget to submit your contracts.

Writers Guild of America West
7000 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone (323) 951-4000 • Fax (323) 782-4800 • www.wga.org