Many new writers will be surprised to learn that appearances on TV or radio, whether contributing opinion to programmes as a specialist or contributing original creative material, are unlikely to make you rich. Rates can vary considerably according to status, but, in any case, are unlikely to make your financial advisor very excited. Contributing ‘soundbites’ to an arts programme on BBC Radio may net you a nominal appearance fee in the region of £50 – a sum which will increase according to your seniority. A 15-minute short story broadcast on BBC Radio 4 will earn you a little more than £160, though this rate increases if you go on to have subsequent short stories broadcast. Those writing broadcast plays can expect to earn £33.50 per minute for a one transmission agreement as a new writer, £55.83 for a two transmission agreement. Again, figures increase fairly significantly for established writers.
The Society of Authors carries details of the very latest negotiated rates for BBC drama on radio and television, including the broadcast of original literary material on its website. Click here for further details.
If you’re dealing with an independent production company on a commission, rates can be wide-ranging. But it is recommended that you nonetheless use BBC rates as a guideline. You’ll almost always be offered a flat rate fee to cover your contribution – and all subsequent broadcast rights. For example, two commissioned poems, plus participation in a documentary may net an established poet around £200 - £300. The sum will include the surrendering of any further monies in the future – the company has bought the rights to sell the material for broadcast as many times as they like, and the material may be aired by the broadcaster repeatedly without recompense to you. This arrangement is fairly standard. But while production companies may ‘buy the rights’ to a work, any payment should not compromise your moral right to be recognised as the author of your work or the protection of the integrity of that work under law. Never sign any agreement stipulating a waiver of your moral rights to a creative work. For further information on copyright click here.