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Notes on negotiating rates for
Broadcasting / Programme support

Please bear in mind these general points about negotiating rates for work on programme support. And please send us your accounts of successful negotiations.

  • The rates suggested for copyright work are for limited licences - for example to publish the work in one booklet or one one website for a set period;
  • Each extra use licensed - for example a book made from a popular website, or re-use in marketing material to promote a programme - attracts an extra fee;
  • The rates are suggested as minima from which freelances will negotiate upward according to their experience and specialist knowledge and the value of the work; and
  • The day rates are going rates. Remember that paid time off should usually be added automatically - see Shift payments - tax and time off.
  • Freelances who are registered for VAT will add it to every invoice.

We haven not actually heard from anyone who has negotiated a limited-time licence. In fact some broadcasters are very keen to get assignment of all rights for one low fee. But it is always worth discussing time-limits as part of the negotiating process - as usual, asking "what do you actually want to do with the work?" is a good place to start.

Writers approached about programme support work should beware of indemnity clauses. Many contracts are lawyers' laundry lists that include both:

  • a "waiver of the moral right to defend the integrity of the work" - in English, that is the right to change it at will - and
  • a clause making the writer "indemnify" the broadcaster against any legal action - in English, that means that if they change the work to libel someone, or lift a whopping copyright violation and drop it into the middle of the work, they want you to pay for the court-case. Or, for that matter, if they inserted a claim that Amanita Muscaria is good to eat and a small village was wiped out as a result... they would want you to be liable.

Obviously, it is in writers' interests to refuse blanket indemnities and decent editors will not press for them. One large book publisher recently agreed to change its contract wording to:

all statements in the Work purporting to be factual are true to the best of the Author's knowledge having undertaken proper and diligent research with respect hereto

We suggest using this as a starting point for negotiations over amending contracts that demand indemnities. NUJ members under pressure to sign can get advice on alternative wording, including a lawyer-generated alternative form of words, from the Freelance Office.

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Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.