Remuneration for reality TV participants?

Reality TV candidates like Double occupation Or Love is in the meadow, should they be entitled to a salary? The question was debated Friday during a seminar on reality TV which brought together industry professionals and researchers interested in the phenomenon.

“We can very well talk about ways to better compensate participants. But when we start to say that reality TV participants should have the right to the same remuneration as members of the Artists’ Union, I think we are seeing a drift. A reality TV participant is not a creator. He does not meet the definition of an artist,” said Martin Proulx, content producer for Masked singersas part of a panel on the adaptation of foreign concepts where he was invited to speak.

If construction workers who participate in dating show start to get paid like members of the UDA, it’s the death of reality TV

Those who participate in Masked singers are paid according to the standards of the Union of Artists (UDA), the union of which most are members. It is also by referring to the standards of the UDA that the production of Big Brother Celebrities offers all participants, regardless of their level of notoriety, remuneration of $6,500 for each week of filming.

“Our payroll for a season is a million dollars. That’s a lot of money. It would cost a lot less to take people who are not known. But we are betting that having celebrities is a huge asset for promotion,” explained Mathieu Ouellet, director of television development for the Entourage Group, the company that produces reality TV, during the same panel.

Contrary to Big Brother Celebrities, Double occupation does not pay its candidates a salary per se. The latter, however, receive a small fee, which is supposed to partly cover their daily costs during filming. Guidelines govern the remuneration of talent competition candidates, such as The voice Or Star Academy. The latter are often not members of the Union of Artists, but they practice on screen an artistic activity which falls under the umbrella of the UDA.

The same goes for dancers. The duty reported, however, in August 2021, that competitors of Revolutiona dance competition broadcast on TVA, were dissatisfied with their salary conditions.

Workers ?

During the Study Day on Reality TV, which took place last Friday at UQAM, students who attended the conferences expressed their discomfort at the idea that people in reality TV shows were not entitled to a salary in due form. According to them, the participants should be considered workers, since they give their time during filming, putting their public image on the line.

“If construction workers who participate in dating show start to get paid like members of the UDA, it’s the death of reality TV. We don’t have the means to pay them that much,” replied content producer Martin Proulx, recalling that budgets are limited in Quebec.

With the decline in advertising revenue, reality TV is expected to take up more and more space in broadcasters’ schedules, this television genre often being less expensive to produce than fiction series, for example. One thing is certain, interest in reality TV has not weakened, twenty years after its arrival in Quebec, as demonstrated by this first study day on the subject.

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