Financial Revue

I haven’t received any money from Newsrevue for a year now.

A whole year without payment.

At first I had this weird delusion: maybe they ran into some financial trouble and couldn’t pay the writers for a couple of months? They’ve been slowly paying everyone else their back pay; but I have so much material performed they just can’t begin to crack the debt mountain they owe me and are hiding behind the sofa every time I email them.

Then I spoke to a few other writers: they haven’t been paid either. Have any writers been paid in the last twelve months? Is Newsrevue conning hundreds of writers out of their (admittedly microscopic) pay? Is Newsrevue running at a loss and can’t afford to pay anyone? What the hell is going on?

All I ever get in response is: “The cheques are going out the middle of next week”. I can only assume this is a week on Jupiter; or a lie, since the cheque never turns up.

Then I received the latest running order: turns out the whole show (bar four sketches) is written by the cast. Of the two sketches which are mine, one of them was rewritten by one of the cast.

Again, I ask: what the hell is going on?

Am I now the only writer stupid enough to send them material? Is this run’s  cast so amazingly talented they outshine all the other writers who submit material? Is it a clever ploy to avoid even owing people any money?

Compare this to The Treason Show who pay up promptly within a week of the end of every month’s show. Why is this so hard to do?

Which leaves me in a dilemma: do I keep submitting anything to Newsrevue or not?

I don’t write for Newsrevue, I write for The Treason Show, because they pay me. I also submit those sketches to Newsrevue, because I foolishly believe I can get paid twice for them. If Newsrevue aren’t going to pay up, why waste the email time?

The glory of seeing my sketches performed?

Not really bothered anymore; I like seeing my stuff performed, but I get that from The Treason Show.

The satisfaction of seeing my name frequently repeated on the running orders?

Yeah, that’s nice, but not as nice as getting the cash; and it’s soured because the more I get on, the more I’m getting ripped off.

I could just stop; but what if Newsrevue suddenly come up with the goods? They must owe me a hefty sum by now, if I stop for a year (bearing in mind I’m writing the sketches anyway) and they suddenly start paying again; I’ve lost potential earnings for that period.

If they truly are in money trouble, it would be nice to have been kept informed. I’m not a monster, if the venue burnt down and needed the cash to rebuild (or something equally dramatic), I wouldn’t object to a deferred payment. What I don’t like is feeling like people are taking the piss.

So what’s the answer? Give up on them or stick it out in the hopes of an eventual windfall? Is anyone else in the same boat? What would you do?

Categories: Industry Musings | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Financial Revue

  1. Roz

    Don’t send anymore material to newsrevue until you’ve been paid what you’re owed. They are not going to magically stump up the money if they continue getting sketches for free. It doesn’t sound like they care about keeping you informed, so why should you care about them?

    Your attitude has ramifications for other writers too, ie, they’re likely not to get paid either because you’re not doing anything about it.
    Stick with the Treason Show.

  2. You’re absolutely right, Roz and I know you are. The only payment I’ve received from Newsrevue turned up six months late and was a reasonably large amount; if not for that I would have stopped a long time ago.

    As it happens, I haven’t had time to write any sketches this month. I’ve decided to email Newsrevue one last time, clearly setting out my grievances. If I don’t get a satisfactory response (and ‘the cheque’s in the post’ isn’t a satisfactory response) then I’m not sending them any more material.

    I am curious to find out how many other writers are in the same boat. I might email the writers’ list and find out; it’d be nice to know all the facts.

    Thanks for your comment, Roz; duly noted.

  3. Phil, as you know, I received a cheque from Newsrevue a month or so back, for the princely sum of £27. This was in addition to the cheque I received from them back in January, for the princessly sum of £33. That’s 70 quid for more than a year’s work. I can make more than that from one month’s Treason Show.

    The amount aside, it’s the time taken to pay/not pay that’s at issue here and, quite frankly, it’s deplorable. Nothing that comes out of Newsrevue’s mouth has any merit any more. It’s as though they’ve a Rolodex of excuses on their desk. ‘It’s in the post’, ‘the running order will follow’, ‘we’re actually very talented’.

    Short of a comprehensive answer from NR, the best course of action is still to send them material, in my opinion. I do. It’s written for the Treason Show anyway, so there’s no additional mental anguish/outlay, and it only takes a second or two to email it.

    Better a small amount of cash than no cash. But still – get your bloody finger out Newsrevue or you’ll lost your writers!

  4. In your case, that makes sense. They are eventually paying you (assuming that is what you’ve earned).

    But for me the problem still remains: are they getting my work for free?

    If I knew for sure they would eventually pay; then it wouldn’t be a problem. I can deal with late payments and I would continue to submit; it’s no payment at all I have a major beef with.

    The problem, from my point of view, is I don’t have enough experience of dealing with Newsrevue to know if they will eventually pay up or not. I need to hear from writers who have been writing for longer to make an informed decision.

  5. Roz

    I had considered submitting work to Newsrevue as well as the Treason Show. But having read about both your experiences – prolific and successful writers getting stitched up – I’ve decided against it.

    While I’m a new writer to comedy/showbiz, I have considerable experience in writing as a freelance journalist. Newspapers can be cut throat so you have to challenge them about late payment/no payment. In most cases they cough up. They’ve even been known apologise. I don’t even bother submitting work to the bad payers.

    I don’t see why it should be any different for scriptwriting. You’re providing a professional service. If you must submit to newsrevue, I suggest getting an agreement in writing/email about fees and when they’ll pay – a bit like a contract I suppose.

    While it takes no effort to send an additional email to newsrevue – there is a principle at stake. Why should they use material for free? The Treason Show don’t have that luxury.

  6. In an ideal world both NewsRevue and The Treason Show would provide a contract. I know it’s never been necessary for The Treason Show, because they always pay on time, but it would still be nice to have.

    I can’t really see it happening though.

    I’ve been doing a bit of emailing and have some further developments; I’ll write them up in another post soon.

  7. Christine Patton

    I started writing for NewsRevue in the spring of 2005. The first money I saw was at least six months later. I’ve had two cheques in total from them, plus another that they sent to an address I’d long since moved from (which was slightly odd because up to then they’d been sending the cheques to my writing partner rather than me).

    I saw the show last night and made a verbal request for the missing cheque. I was assured it would be re-issued very soon. We shall see.

    It pains me to have to complain like this. NewsRevue was the first paying gig I ever had, and writing for them has taught me an incredible amount. For that I am and will always be grateful. But from a practical standpoint it’s hard not to feel ill-used. There was a payment-related row between some writers and the management a few months back, and I noticed a lot of familiar names disappeared from the running orders soon after. And now we’ve got a run that’s more than 50% cast-written.

    It’s got to the point now where NewsRevue’s not worth my time. I submit material to The Treason Show most months, and like Phill and Gordon I double submit that material to NewsRevue. If it gets in, great. If not, oh well.

  8. I’ll be interested to see if they actually re-issue that ‘lost’ cheque. I’m just about to start a new post about the ongoing saga.

  9. Pingback: Financial Revue Pt II « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

  10. Pingback: NewsRevue makes good « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

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