“As bullish as companies like ITV are on the profit potential of reality television, the fact is that the men and women who actually make the shows toil under grueling conditions,” the guild said in a statement issued Monday a few hours before the awards show began.
“Tight-fisted networks insist on impossibly tight production schedules,” the WGA East said. “Writer-producers work up to 80 hours per week without time off – and without overtime pay. Injuries are rampant on field shoots. No one gets health or pension benefits.”
ITV responded by issuing a statement: “ITV Studios America is in ongoing talks with the WGA East and has no further comment at this stage.”
The guild made a similar attack on ITV in February, accusing the company of “stealing” an average $30,000 annually from each of its writers and producers. The WGA has been unsuccesful in attempts to unionize the ITV shows — which include Nat Geo’s “Cesar 911,” “The First 48″ on A&E and TLC’s “Four Weddings.”
“This is the dark side of the television business,” the WGA said Monday. “And let’s be blunt: it’s the non-union side.”
The WGA has organized three major reality-TV production companies – Sharp Entertainment, Optomen Productions, Lion TV – in recent years.
But it noted Monday that its 2013 survey of more than 300 reality TV employees showed that more than 80% worked more than 8 hours/day at least once a week, with 60% working more than eight hours every day; 80% said they sometimes worked more than five days a week; 71% worked more than forty hours a week, every week; and 84% worked more than forty hours most weeks.
The WGA said 85% of respondents said they never received overtime pay; 66% of respondents filled out time cards, but only 11% of those filling out timecards said they were always accurate.