Leading UK screenwriters have backed new best-practice guidelines on the ‘created by’ credit in UK broadcasting. Published by the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain.
“Our best-loved TV shows are born from the creative brilliance, imagination, skilful execution and craft of UK screenwriters, “ says WGGB President Sandi Toksvig OBE says, “yet many are not receiving the credit they deserve as creators, not to mention the financial remuneration and protection of their rights.”
The guidelines are backed by writers including Simon Allen, Andrew Davies, Stephen Gallagher, Tahsin Guner, Maurice Gran, Lisa Holdsworth, Dennis Kelly, Sophie Petzal, Ashley Pharoah and Anna Symon.
The ‘created by’ credit: A good practice guide for TV writers and those who work with has been produced by WGGB in consultation with sister unions and guilds around the world.
Currently, in UK television, the use of the ‘created by’ credit – which carries many implications in terms of copyright, underlying intellectual property rights, royalties and residual fees – is not subject to any rigorous or consistent definition applied across the industry.
As a result, writers doing the same job on different shows may be treated very differently and may not be rewarded with a ‘created by’ credit or the control over their own work to which they should be entitled. At the same time, non-writers are claiming ‘created by’ credits.
The guide has been produced with the aim of clarifying the role and definition of a TV series creator, and to bring UK practice into line with the highest international standards.
It includes definitions of key terms such as ‘pilot screenplay’, ‘series pitch document’ and ‘series bible’ and explores how to approach joint authorship and co-authorship, adaptations, copyright law and more. It also provides some easy-to-understand sample scenarios to help writers, commissioners, producers and others navigate the process.
Toksvig adds:: “Thankfully WGGB has come to the rescue once again, establishing a benchmark of good practice, which will bring the UK in line with international standards and become a guiding light for writer-creators and all those who work with them.”
WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said: “Many established TV writers in the UK are granted creator status as a matter of course. But we know from our members that some are not. Variations in time slot, channel and the writer’s perceived standing in the industry, as well as entrenched practice in certain departments, are some of the factors which can prevent a writer from being recognised as the creator of a work.
“These new guidelines will ensure that all screenwriters who are involved in creating TV shows receive the credit they rightfully deserve.”
WGGB TV Chair Emma Reeves said: “Having chaired the WGGB TV Committee for over seven years, I have become increasingly aware that in scripted drama, there is no standard industry practice for attributing creators’ credits or assigning the potentially lucrative ownership of IP.
“Newer and lesser-known writers are in a much more vulnerable position when it comes to losing control of their own work, or of being used and credited simply as an episode writer on a new show, when the lack of a pilot script and a central vision means that their work is an essential part of that show’s creation.
“At the Writers’ Guild, we have seen these situations crop up time and time again, and we want to ensure that all writers are given the creative credit which they deserve.”
Screenwriter Simon Allen (The Watch, Das Boot, the Musketeers, Hunted) said:“Yet again the Writers’ Guild has shone a much needed light on an issue that affects far too many in our industry. This new guide, shaped by the insights and experiences of working creatives, should become a landmark reference point for anyone who is serious about developing projects in a fair, inclusive and collaborative way that reflects the real contributions of everybody involved.”
Screenwriter Maurice Gran (Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart, Mumbai Calling, Believe Nothing) said: “I heartily endorse this code which should help to promote the primacy of the writer as the creative engine of our industry. Writers, especially new writers, are too often patronised and marginalised, and without WGGB their position would be even more parlous.”
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