“When I first started writing for radio and television, I was signing contracts with the BBC, and with companies that held ‘territorial’ ITV franchises (it was that long ago). Those contracts were based on agreements negotiated by WGGB members; writers of an earlier generation had given time and effort to ensure that they – and their successors – had decent levels of payment, working conditions that showed respect for their contribution to the production process, and, crucially, an ongoing participation, through royalties and residuals, in the rewards from the exploitation of their work.
“The world of broadcasting has changed massively in the years since then (the word ‘broadcasting’ itself doesn’t accurately describe the ways in which our scripted material is now distributed). There are multiple TV channels, subscription-based services, digital and online access to our work. The contracts we sign are still based on agreements negotiated by the WGGB (or if they’re not, we’re probably being ripped off); but those agreements need constant renegotiation and updating, which is still the work of Guild members and officials. As a Guild member, I can contribute to those negotiations; and I have a platform from which I can argue and complain if I think my interests have not been adequately represented.
“Writers who are not Guild members, and some who are, might ask ‘What does the Writers’ Guild do for me?’ What they should be asking is, ‘What can I do for myself, and my fellow writers, through the Writers’ Guild?’ The answer is, that you can help in the constant struggle to secure and protect your rights as a creative worker.”