B&C’s Marisa Guthrie reports on an increasing trend in news media: not paying your on-air contributors. With budget cuts everywhere, it’s not particularly surprising that networks would be paying less and less for on-air “experts” to appear on shows like the national morning programs, but the missing paychecks have left many a bit nostalgic for the old days:
One agent recalls a multi-year deal worth nearly $250,000 for a medical expert. When the deal expired, according to the agent, the network suggested a strikingly different arrangement: The client could continue to appearâ€”without getting paid.
These situations have become more common, say network executives. Contracts are not renewed when they expire, but the expert, who has already forged a relationship with the network and its viewers, is asked to appear gratis.
In an age when being an “expert” often means being a brand attached to books, shows, and web sites, many on-air contributors are left at an impasse — not wanting to forgo pay, but finding it pretty hard to turn down the fan-building power that frequent television appearances can provide. That leads to a situation working decidedly in the network’s favor:
“But at the end of the day, getting exposure on Good Morning America or the Today show is going to help build your brand,” [Babette Perry of IMG] adds. “You would almost pay them. I hate to say that, but the truth of the matter is, that’s how the networks look at it.”