Who we are and what we do

Writers Digital Payments is a not-for-profit company set up to negotiate payment with broadcasters for the use of writers’ work on catch up and other online services. Currently this covers material available via BBC i-player and ITV Hub.

WDP is owned by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (trade union for TV writers) and the Personal Managers’ Association (trade body for writers’ agents) each of which can nominate directors.

Having negotiated and received the monies from the broadcasters WDP distributes it to the writers whose work has featured in accordance with its distribution criteria (which are detailed below). WDP has engaged the ALCS to physically make the payments according to those criteria.

WDP charges the BBC and ITV a fee to cover the costs of running the system, which at present covers the cost of the operation, so that neither WDP nor ALCS take any commission or expenses out of the monies.

How it works

The broadcasters pay WDP the negotiated sums for each year and supply data detailing the number of viewings of each programme along with contractual payment information for the relevant writer/s.

WDP then analyses the data looking for possible errors and resolves those issues with the relevant broadcaster. Of the nature of the complexity of the system it is typical that extensive checking is required. Once the data is regarded as “safe” the payment details are sent to ALCS who arrange a date for distribution that does not clash with their other activities.

WDP aims to distribute monies at the end of the year next following that to which the data pertains. However, due to the variable quality of the data and the length of time taken by the broadcaster to correct errors, the actual date of distribution in each year cannot be fixed.

Distribution Criteria

Technological change drives the television world and WDP constantly re-evaluates its distribution criteria accordingly.

In order to qualify for payment the programme must be a scripted drama, comedy, or dramatic segment of another programme. It must have been commissioned by the BBC or ITV either in-house or from an independent producer. Acquisitions of programmes originally commissioned by other broadcasters do not qualify.

In general programmes need to be UK productions for writer to qualify, because, a) foreign contracts would typically buy out these rights and, b) there is no reciprocal organisation to pay British writers for these rights in foreign countries.

WDP takes no account of writer status, so all writers are paid at the same rate (subject to the criteria listed) and as equal contributors, unless there is evidence that the proportions of their contributions are different.

Fully scripted programmes in excess of 15 minutes in length are paid at 100% irrespective of length.

Fully scripted programmes that are 15 minutes or less in length are paid at 50%.

If a writer’s contract is a buyout they do not qualify – payment of residuals might indicate that a work qualifies.

Payment is not made to production companies, or other corporate entities unless it is clear that they are simply an individual’s services provider.

There is a presumption that a presenter/performer is not a writer, and therefore not to be paid unless there is evidence of a bona fide separate writer’s agreement.

All programmes with fewer than 10,000 hits will not be included.

If a writer is due less than £25 the money will not be paid out but will be held in their account until future distributions bring them up to £25.

Where WDP considers data provided by a broadcaster to be unsafe (i.e. possibly inaccurate) it will reserve the relevant monies from the distribution and, once verified, include them in later distributions.

WDP negotiates a lump sum with the broadcasters. The figure for BBC for 2021 was £1.75m which generally equates to approximately £1 per 1000 hits. If the number of hits increases substantially, that rate will reduce.

WDP People

Marc Berlin

Director

Marc Berlin is a dramatists’ agent of over 40 years experience. He has expertise in a variety of copyright related dealings in television, films and theatre, primarily for writers but also for directors, designers and other rights holders.

Lisa Foster

Director

Lisa Foster started her career at Alan Brodie Representation Ltd where she spent 14 years, primarily as an agent, representing playwrights and screenwriters. In 2016 she joined Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Ltd, where she works as a Business Affairs Executive, advising on writing and directing deals across film, television and theatre.

Ellie Peers

Director

Ellie Peers has been the general secretary of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) since 2017, prior to this she was the WGGB assistant general secretary. WGGB is a TUC-affiliated trade union that represents writers in all genres but specialises in TV, theatre, radio and film. Ellie has worked within the trade union movement for over twenty years and has a background in events management and worked as a freelancer in film and television for several years.

Robert Taylor

Director

Robert began his career as a scriptwriter in the 1990s and contributed numerous episodes to childrens’ and comedy TV series. Subsequently Robert qualified as a solicitor and is currently a partner at gunnercooke. Robert was chair of the Writers' Guild from 2009-2012.

Lynne Mendoza

Manager

Lynne is the manager of WDP. She has over 30 years’ experience of working in the entertainment industry including fringe and West End theatre, at a dramatists' agency and in television production.

Carey Clifford

Assistant Manager

Carey has over 10 years’ experience in the film industry working at Figment Films and DNA Films before taking time out to have children. She also has extensive experience working at a dramatists’ agency. Carey joined WDP in 2018 as the Assistant Manager.

VAT

Payments received from WDP do not include VAT and, for those persons registered, are outside of the broadcaster’s VAT self-billing scheme.

BBC

Where a writer is registered for VAT they, or their agent, will need to send a VAT invoice (template below) covering the amount of the payment from WDP to: bbc_contributorpayments@bbc.zendesk.com

BBC invoice template.

ITV

Where a writer is registered for VAT they, or their agent, will need to send a VAT invoice to ITV c/o WDP (template below)

ITV invoice template.

Contact us

Lynne Mendoza – General Manager

0333 320 8068

lynne.mendoza@writersdigitalpayments.co.uk

Carey Clifford – Assistant Manager

07908 888 579

carey.clifford@writersdigitalpayments.co.uk