Growing Number of Experts Appearing Without Pay

By kevin 

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 appear—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.”

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