Equity has stuck its nose into the reality TV business, claiming that participants should be paid. The performing artists’ union apparently reckons that X Factor is making money by “exploiting and humiliating” contestants. Well I only occasionally watch the first round, which can be hilarious, and I reckon the contestants humiliate themselves.
However what business is it of Equity? I doubt there is a significant proportion of Equity members among them (if there were there would be far fewer completely hopeless and clueless people, and they provide the entertainment).
Equity’s statement claims that “… [t]he contestants in such programmes are often compelled to enter into restrictive contracts …”, which is a direct lie. The contestants enter into a voluntary agreement with the production company; no-one compels them to put themselves forward for the competition. Why should Equity feel it has any say in those people’s right to sign that contract?
All the unions used to be like that, in the days when closed shops were legal and ‘flying picket’ a term in common use. They must never be allowed to have back the power they once had and many hardcore socialists want them to have again. In particular unions like Unite and the NUT, which involve themselves in political activity that does not relate directly to members’ rights, must be challenged every time they make demands of the government. Of course this government is hardly likely to do so, the Labour Party would be bankrupt if it were not for the generosity of those unions. That is a serious conflict of interest.
Unfortunately the only argument TF1 appears to make against a French court ruling that they have to pay contestants in similar cases is that this might spell an end to reality TV on their channel. As far as I can see that is the one benefit of the ruling.