Audio rates 2020-21
Current rates for audio drama writing for the BBC are listed below. These rates were last updated 9th March 2021.
We would like to remind members that – for linear radio (not podcast) – our rates are minimum terms and you are free to continue to negotiate your own higher rate, at least 1% above these quoted percentages for the contract terms specified below.
If you would like to contribute to discussions, or you have any queries, please contact Theo Jones, co-secretary to the SoA's Scriptwriters Group.
BBC commissioning processes are detailed here.
Code of practice
Read the Guide to Working Relationships Between Writers and BBC in-house Producer/Directors
Agreements and rates
Rates are calculated per minute on the duration of the slot with the exception of the '15 minute' drama broadcast in Woman's Hour which is paid on the actuality of 14 minutes. Slot durations are:
- Friday Drama, Saturday Drama, Classic Serial: 60 minutes
- Afternoon Drama: 45 minutes
- 15 Minute Drama (note fees paid on actual written length of 14 minutes)
- 11.30 and 23.00 Comedy: 30 minutes
Original drama (per minute)
- Beginners' rate: £67.90 (2 tx) / £40.73 (1 tx)
- Established writers' rate: £102.42 (2 tx) / £61.41 (1 tx)
- Attendance payment: £74.00
- A New Public Services Fee (NPSF) applies to all commissions to cover simulstreaming, iPlayer use, R4 Extra broadcasts and podcasting (for 5 years) The uplift for this is 15% of the one transmission rate.
An established writer is one where the writer has had 120 minutes of dramatic works transmitted provided that this has been achieved over more than at least two plays, dramatisations, dramatised features, adaptations, series or long running series.
Co-written script minutage is calculated on a pro-rata basis and the share is agreed when the play is contracted. E.g. two writers of a 90' play , if on an agreed 50:50 basis, each receive a 45' allocation. If the split changes during the writing and the share needs to be adjusted (with the agreement of all parties) this needs to be arranged prior to or when paying the second half of the fee (and not after the event).
As a beginner accrues more experience the fee customarily slides upwards towards the established rate. Minutage applies when the play has been completed and broadcast.
Dramatisations and adaptations
Dramatisations are paid at 65%, 75% or 85% of the rates depending on the context and level of difficulty.
Adaptations of stage plays are commissioned on the following basis: the underlying rights are paid for at the usual per minute published material rate for plays/prose; whereas an adaptor, depending on the work involved, can be paid a flat fee for minor edits towards 35% of the RDA drama rate for very substantial adaptations where new scenes or characters may be developed.
Commissioned short stories (per 15 minutes)
- 1st and 2nd: £205
- 3rd – 5th: £243
- 6th – 9th: £276
- 10th onwards: £352
- Generally established outside the BBC: £352
- Generally established inside the BBC: £418
Abridgements (per minute)
- Beginners' rate: £7.93
- Established writers' rate: £11.70
New-make podcast (five-year licence)
- Category 1 (1-6 mins): £315
- Category 2 (7-9 mins): £579
- Category 3 (10-19 mins): £1,051
- Category 4 (20-29 mins): £1,578
- Category 5 (30-40 mins): £2,314
Original commissions for R4Extra are contracted at the RDA/RCA4 single transmission rate.
Under current RDA/RCA4 contracts the NPSF covers broadcasts on 4Extra (as well as simulcast etc). This is 12.5% of the single transmission fee.
Under the terms of the Radio 4 Extra Geneal Permissions agreement (expiry: March 2018) archive programming is paid for on the following basis:
- Original script material: £3.37 per minute
- Dramatisations (including specially commissioned translations): £2.18 per minute
- Source work material (including translations) £1.30 per minute
- Abridgements £0.78 per minute
In return for these payments the BBC has the right to broadcast/simulstream work for 6 transmission days (up to four transmissions per day) over three years on the Service. Rights acquired include to make an audiostream or temporary download for up to 30 days plus a further 7 days to listen (if downloaded) following each transmission:
To view advance schedules, visit this link and enter 'writer' (all lower-case) as a password. Writers will have to be sent the new link once. The file within the link will change with new week number parameters. Clicking on the 'download' button on the top right-hand corner of screen will allow a user to open up the document in an Excel format.
BBC/Society of Authors Published Material Rates
These rates are calculated on a one-transmission basis. Two transmissions, if paid upfront, are 180%.
Translations of plays, prose and verse is payable at two thirds of the rates due to each of translator and original author. If you are dramatising an English translation a producer will have to clear rights to the translation and the underlying work. 2/3 of the prose for dramatisation rate is paid to both the original author/publisher and the translator/UK publisher.
NPSF rights (4Extra, audiostream etc) are bought with 10% of the single transmission fee. Contracts now include automatic Public Service podcast rights for 30 days provided that any podcast could be taken down immediately at the written request of the rights-holder. Reasons may include any offer of an audio-publication, stage or film deal.
These rates apply from 12th April 2021.
- Prose (per minute): £32.92
- Poetry (per 1/2 minute): £39.49
Core Service Radio
- Plays/Prose (per min): £19.13
- Poetry (per ½ min): £19.13
- Prose for Dramatisation (per min): £14.91
- Prose (per min) or poetry translation (per ½ min): £12.75
World Service Radio (English)/BBC Digital Radio
- Plays/Prose (per min): £9.56
- Poetry (per 1/2 min): £9.56
- Prose for Dramatisation (per min): £7.44
- Prose (per min) or poetry translation (per ½ min): £6.38
- Plays/Prose (per min): £4.77
- Poetry (per 1/2 min): £4.77
- Prose for Dramatisation (per min): £3.71
- Prose (per min) or poetry translation (per ½ min): £3.18
Features are commissioned at a minimum fee of £45.93 per minute with a baseline threshold of £321.48. The minimum fee equates to seven minutes duration.
No residuals or repeat fees are paid for further broadcasts and the author is able to re-use their script (but not the recording) once the exclusive period lapses. The option to engage radio features contributors on a daily rate remains.
A feature writer has to provide the following services: research in depth; collection and selection of insert material (e.g. actuality recordings, literary material); scripting; presentation; interviewing as may be required by the BBC to make a radio programme, or self-contained item within a radio programme, which is a creative treatment of its subject but which does not involve actors in character or original material in dramatic form.
Such programmes or items would normally be fully or partly edited or compiled by the contributor but these special terms applicable to ‘features’ work may still apply if the BBC carries out editing subject to this being taken into account in assessing the fee.
Some BBC producers offer authors a lower non-edit rate with the reasoning that authors are required to submit a fully edited programme. This may be reasonable if a substantial edit is necessary, but a lower rate has not been approved by the SoA, WGGB and NUJ.
Download a sample Feature agreement
Radio talks contributions
Talks are commissioned on a flat-fee basis with no residuals paid for further broadcasts. There is a limited exclusive period, after which the author is able to use their script elsewhere.
Minimum rates are:
- Script and Read: £23.97 per minute with a minimum fee of £47.93
- Script only £18.58 a minute with a minimum fee of £37.15
- Daily rate Reporting £134.33 per day. Minimum fee of £67.17 (per half day).
Download a sample Talks contract
Contributions bought on a daily rate basis are bought out on an assignment basis. See a sample assignment
BBC/PMA/WGGB TV Rates (per minutes, on slot length)
For full details see the Writers' Guild website.
Since 2014 the BBC has been writing to authors requesting that their entire BBC radio and TV production catalogue will be made available on similar (paid) terms to those that apply to contemporary BBC programme commissions.
For full information see www.bbc.co.uk/writerslicence which has full FAQs and a downloadable licence.
Please be aware that you can withhold consent to individual works, withdraw or re-include works previously withdrawn at any time upon reasonable notice. Payments for any new commercial uses will be negotiated in the relevant Radio or TV Writers’ Forums.
If you do not sign the BBC’s request, your original contracts will continue to apply, but your work cannot be made available for any new uses and in practice, your work is unlikely to be re-used. Members often complain that their past work has become inaccessible, so we highly recommend that you sign up to this deal.
Consents from (and payments to) the owners of underlying rights will continue to be dealt with on an individual basis.
BBC Contributor Payments
The BBC receives over 100 returned contributor payments a month, most of which are by incorrect bank details resulting from artists (or even agents) changing bank details and not notifying the BBC. These require a lot of manual effort to resolve and with the consequence that contributors are not receiving the payments that they are entitled to.
If you need to check, chase a payment or register your details:
Phone: 0800 098 8106 (option 1)
Address(This information will be of interest to artists and contributors/agents who submit VAT-only invoices and any other hard copy documentation): BBC Contributor Payments, PO Box 745, Redhill, RH1 9GB
Contacts at BBC Literary Copyright
Need to speak to someone? Download the contact details for the BBC Literary Copyright team