Throughout the broadcasting industry fees tend to be led by those paid by the BBC, with which the NUJ has a number of agreements on minimum terms. They vary widely, however, because of the range of different jobs freelances undertake, the complexity and plethora of guidelines (some agreed with the NUJ, some not) and hugely varied budgets attached to each programme or station.
Broadcast journalism is certainly not the best-paid area of the media and often rates are, quite simply, poor.
As always for freelances, the best advice is to know what other freelances are being paid - talk to other NUJ members - and negotiate. One senior radio producer advises: "Always raise the question of fees before agreeing to take on a commission. Freelances who do not will be paid minimum rates and will have lost any negotiating strength. No-one should be embarrassed - producers expect professionals to talk money and they need professionals to do the work."
Extensive negotiations between the NUJ and BBC have finally resulted in the BBC dropping the copyright grab clause in their standard contract for radio features. It has been replaced by a licence which is exclusive for two years and non-exclusive thereafter. This is an improvement, but not satisfactory and the NUJ is working for further improvements. Of course, the standard contract remains on offer, but the freelance may be able to negotiate.
Payments for shifts
The suggested rates for shifts do not form part of a formal agreement, but broadly reflect accepted going rates.
Freelances who are offered payment at daily rates pro-rata to the staff rate for the grade of work they are being asked to do should stipulate that the rates should at least, if not above, the mid-point on the salary scale for that work - plus at least 18 per cent (to cover on-costs). Paid time off should be added automatically at the appropriate percentage rate, although managers may argue that freelances are paid as "casual staff" with tax and NI being deducted at source: see Shift payments - tax and time off.
Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.