MPEG Reality TV Roundtable: Update

Hi fellow editors! I attended the Editor’s Guild Reality TV Roundtable on 12/11/13. And here is the sense that I came away with:

Is MPEG perfect? Absolutely not. Is it worthwhile for editors to try to get more shows unionized? Definitely yes. And here’s why:

If your show doesn’t have a union deal, chances are you don’t have many (or any) of the following:

• Employer contributions to health benefits.

• Employer contributions to retirement funds.

• Regulated OT policy with guidelines for enforcement.

• A contract that binds employers to the terms of your employment.

• The power of group negotiation on the terms of that contract.

As members of the Editors Collective, we do have one great source of power, and that’s the power of communication with one another. I believe that we can (and should) use that power to build a cohesive movement toward unionizing the reality TV industry.

Reality editors are currently shaping 60% of all original content on the air – content that is making tons of profit for the networks. Don’t you think we deserve the same benefits that union editors are getting on scripted TV shows?

And for those of you who are skeptical of the Editors Guild – I hear you. MPEG is not a panacea; they are not the answer to all of our individual complaints. Think of them as a sort of extension of the Department of Labor, which was set up to protect workers’ rights. Is the Department of Labor bureaucratic, inefficient, and out of date with today’s working conditions? Sure. Would you rather have nobody protecting you at all? Heck no.

Over the coming months, the EC’s Education & Advocacy department will be communicating with MPEG. We’ll find out all the details on their contracts, how negotiation is carried out, how the health plans work, etc – and we’ll share this info with you so that we can all get better informed about what a unionized reality TV industry might look like.


In the meantime, here are some things you can do to learn more about the Guild:

Stay informed: To keep up with what the union is doing, you can "like" the MPEG facebook page here:

… follow MPEG on twitter here: @MPEG700

… and subscribe to MPEG's magazine here:

Attend the EC | Education & Advocacy seminars. Look for announcements on the EC – or to be added to the mailing list, email me at


And for those of you who are already on the same page, here are some things you can do to work with MPEG toward building a movement in reality/nonfiction TV:

Spread the word: Repost stories about MPEG victories on the EC.
Gather intelligence about who is working where, and what conditions are like at each production company. Share this info with your union reps.*
Test the waters in your workplace: Talk to your co-workers to gauge if they are friendly to the idea of the union. If they are, contact your MPEG reps* to talk about what steps to take.

*MPEG reps:

  • Paul Moore (NYC):
  • Jennifer Madar (NYC):
  • Rob Callahan (national organizer):


That’s all for now, but more is on the way… Stay tuned! And again, if you'd like to be on the mailing list for future EC | Education & Advocacy events, please email me at:

Written by: Anna Holtzman