Defamer ran this article today on WGA minimums. It’s rather mislabeled – as Beejoli says, your favorite television writers are likely show creators (unless they’re personal friends of yours, you probably do not notice the names of the other writers) and they’ve negotiated much higher salaries and fees for themselves than guild minimum. Also important to note; while she routinely gives a typical schedule of 26 weeks to churn out 22 episodes, cable shows are usually 13 episodes, and many first year network shows don’t get their back nine either. (Pro tip: if your show gets canceled or is on hiatus, you are eligible for unemployment.)
Still, this is important information to have. Here’s the WGA minimum schedule, which you can find on their website under writer’s resources, contracts and compensation, Schedule of Minimums. The pay gap is real, not just between men and women but between employees of different races, and things like the union’s being completely open about pay scales help. (They don’t negate it, but they help.) (Also, that link is to one of my favorite articles ever on the topic.)
But speaking of the difference between network and cable budgets, a story: I was working as a production assistant on a network show when one of our writers was shopping around a pilot. The show was about sex. Showtime was very interested, and it was right up their alley, when to everyone’s surprise a broadcast network showed interest. Showtime advised the writer that the broadcast network could offer him more than they ever could, so go do those negotiations. He could come back if they fell through. The broadcast network ended up picking up the show, but then seemed to panic that they had a show about sex and they were a network that couldn’t even talk about sex, so they gave it a very low budget, made some truly ridiculous compromises in the shooting (naked people shown from the neck up only), and burned it off during the summer.
This story has a happy ending in that the writer has gone on to create more series, one of which is still on-air. Still, I hope eventually Showtime decides to re-develop with him. It would be a completely different show on a network that wasn’t afraid, and I think it had a lot to say.