BBC writers receive over £1 million in digital payments 

BBC screenwriters have received over £1.2 million in payments for viewings of their work on BBC iPlayer during 2019, according to figures just released by Writers Digital Payments (WDP).

The not-for-profit scheme, set up by WGGB and the Personal Managers’ Association (PMA), completed its latest distribution to writers last month.

The recent pay-out follows six previous BBC distributions and two ITV distributions.

Since the WDP scheme launched in 2015, over £5.5 million has hit the bank accounts of writers.

The broadcaster allocates a lump sum per year and then this money is distributed to writers via the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society. WDP works out how much each writer is allocated, based on the number of clicks their show receives.

This means that writers are rewarded if their show does well on the platform – the more people who watch their show the more the writer is paid.

Writers don’t have to be members of WGGB to be eligible, or need to register. But if they are writing under a contract for a show that is to be broadcast by the BBC or ITV, they should check that their contract contains a clause on WDP. WGGB members are eligible for contract vetting, and legal advice as part of their membership, so can get in touch with us if they are unsure (email or phone 020 7833 0777).

The distribution schedule varies, but for the BBC it usually takes place every December/January.

WDP’s longer term strategy is to broaden the scheme out to other broadcasters beyond BBC and ITV.

WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said: “I am proud of the part WGGB has played in setting up this unique scheme for writers.

“Writers Digital Payments takes no commission, so the money we negotiate with broadcasters goes directly to writers, a very different scenario to the digital exploitation we are sadly seeing in other parts of the world.

“As a trade union, equality and diversity is at the heart of what we do, and this scheme is truly egalitarian – you will be paid the same rate for each view of your show, regardless of what genre you are writing in and your original script fee.

“We know that lockdown has seen a huge surge in catch-up TV and it is only right that writers are properly remunerated for this – we expect that the next round of Writers Digital Payments will give some interesting insights, not just into viewing habits of the nations and regions during the pandemic, but to how writers have kept us entertained through such dark times.”