BBC Radio has been accused of “undervaluing” writers after the Corporation increased minimum rates of pay by just 1% for creators of audio comedy and drama.
The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain said it had “reluctantly” agreed to the offer with the BBC, which came into force on August 1, claiming that to reject it could have led to months of haggling, which would have made it harder to get any backdated.
Bernie Corbett, general secretary of the guild, told The Stage: “It can be a very complex business to backdate increases on individual writers’ contracts, particularly if it [negotiations] go on for a period of months. Reluctantly, we decided to implement the money offered from August 1, so we were not stuck in the position of it coming in much later than it should have.”
Corbett also claimed that it was hard to negotiate with the BBC at this time, because it was “making cuts upon cuts and pleading poverty”.
“They save very little money in terms of the BBC’s overall finances and are clearly damaging output,” he said.
The 1% increase means the minimum rate of pay for an established writer penning an original radio drama is now £92.65 a minute.
A spokeswoman for the BBC said: “We hugely value the important role of writers and are committed to championing the work of new and established talent, but the BBC is also facing tough savings challenges.
“Negotiations are still in progress and we will continue our constructive conversations with the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.”
Meanwhile, the Writers’ Guild has negotiated a 2% increase on minimum fees for playwrights working with the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court Theatre.
This means that the minimum fee for a play is now just under £12,000.