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PBS Freelance

2010 – 2014 WGA-PBS Freelance Agreement: Summary of Basic Terms

WGA writers must be compensated according to the following contract provisions for their writing services on Guild covered Public Television projects. Producing fees are paid separate and apart from these terms and not covered by the WGA Agreement.

Initial Compensation
The current initial minimum compensation rates for a 60 minute high budget (over $156,750) PBS documentary are:

  • Story & Telescript: $20,327
  • Story only: $5,706
  • Telescript only: $16,534
  • Rewrite or Polish (adjustments to the narrative structure): $8,258

All minimum rates shall be increased accordingly:

  • 7/1/2012: 2.75%
  • 7/1/2013: 2.75%

WGA Pension & Health

The writer is also entitled to receive contributions from the employer to the WGA Pension & Health Plan. This is 16% (8.5% for Health & 7.5% for Pension) on top of initial compensation. A credited writer for both a story & telescript on both a 60 minute and 90 minute documentaries will receive additional pension and health contributions made on their behalf so that she/he can qualify for a full year of health benefits.  

For additional questions about WGA Pension & Health you should contact the:

Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan
Writers' Guild-Industry Health Fund
1015 N. Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91505-2526
PHONE: (818) 846-1015; (800) 227-7863 (outside the Los Angeles Area)
FAX: (818) 566-8445
8:30 am to 5:00 pm Pacific Time

Use Periods

Once the project is produced and exhibited nationally it officially enters a “use period” of three years, at which point the program can be exhibited on PBS four “times” (each “time” will constitute 7 days) over three years at no additional cost.

After the expiration of the first licensing period the company has the option to renew for two additional years (1 release each year) for 25% of the applicable minimum.

After this initial use period (four releases over three years with two, one-year extensions) the following payments shall be made for the subsequent use periods, with each subsequent use period allowing four releases over three years:

Second use period: 50% of IMC
Third use period: 35% of IMC
Fourth through eighth use periods: 25% of IMC
Ninth and tenth use periods:15%of IMC
Eleventh use period: 10% of IMC
Twelfth and each additional use period: 5% of IMC

Made for Internet Programming

Made for internet (“New Media”) original programming is covered under the terms of this Agreement. For more information about the Guild rules that would apply to a specific New Media project please contact:

Geoff Betts
WGAE Business Agent

Audio-Visual Use (Use in Schools, Churches, Libraries, etc.)

If the company elects to distribute this project (via DVD, videocassette, etc.) to schools, libraries, churches, or similar institutions then it will owe the writer 15% of the “gross receipts” earned from licensing such audio-visual rights. 

Supplemental Markets (DVD, Basic Cable, and Pay TV)

The company needs to pay an advance of 20% of applicable minimum to the writer in order to enter the supplemental markets listed above. If this 20% advance is exceeded through overall sales then additional percentage payments to the writer will automatically kick in. For example, the company will owe the writer 1.5% of producer’s gross for any amount earned under $1 million and 1.8% of producer’s gross for anything earned over $1 million.

Internet Streaming

If the company elects to stream a project online during a use period it will owe the writer 1.2% of any licensing fee paid to the company to stream the material. If the material is streamed out of the first use period then the company will owe the writer 15% of initial compensation for another use period (three years), and then 10% of initial compensation for all additional streaming beyond that second, three-year use period.

Internet Downloads/Electronic Sell Through (EST)  

If a program is released as an EST but not in supplemental markets, payment of initial minimum compensation (IMC) shall be in accordance with the following schedule: 

1,000 units sold 5% of IMC

2,500 units sold 5% of IMC

5,000 units sold 10% of IMC

Thereafter, EST residuals shall reflect the formula in the WGA-AMPTP Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) (i.e., .36% of accountable receipts for up to 100,000 units; .7% of accountable receipts thereafter). 

Foreign Markets

If the company elects to license a project that is a foreign co-production to air in foreign television markets then the company will owe the writer a 35% advance of initial compensation. 

If the project is not a co-production then company shall compensate the writer accordingly for foreign distribution of the project:

  • 15% advance of applicable minimum once the company obtains knowledge of the first foreign telecast
  • 10% advance of applicable minimum once the distributor’s foreign gross exceeds $13,000 for 60 minute projects and exceeds $18,000 for projects over 60 minutes
  • 10% of applicable minimum once the distributor’s foreign gross exceeds $18,000 for 60 minute projects and exceeds $24,000 for projects over 60 minutes



Credits are determined ultimately by the WGA. The signatory company must submit a notice of tentative writing credits to the WGA before any final credit decisions can be made. You can direct specific credits questions to: 

Fawn Catigbe
WGAE Credits Administrator