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WGA freelancers OK three-year PBS pact

Guild members ratify contract with Public Television

The Writers Guild of America’s freelance members have ratified a new contract covering many of the shows produced for public television stations.

The three-year pact, which was approved by 98% of those voting, provides pay raises of 3.5% for the first year, retroactive to Nov. 13; 4% for the second year and 3.5% for the third, with similar hikes for sequel royalties, spinoff royalties and character payments. It covers freelancers employed by WNET in New York, WGBH in Boston and KCET in Los Angeles as well as many independent producers.

Credit issues

The contract also limits use of possessory credits, such as “a film by,” to those who are writer, director and producer on a project and have been approved for the credit by a joint union-management committee or through an arbitration. Such credits are not common on PBS programs but the issue is an important one for WGA leaders, who have complained extensively in recent years about directors’ use of the credit in motion pictures.

The pact also provides that writers of one-hour documentaries or public affairs programs will receive one year of health fund coverage.

“Public television remains a wrtiers’ medium,” said Mona Mangan, executive director of the Writers Guild of America East. “The new WGA public television freelance argreement assures that these skilled professionals will be adequately compensated and recognized.”

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