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Reality TV Suit Finally Settles

The Bachelor
Source: abc.com
The Bachelor

Reality TV's biggest off-air conflict just resolved with a lot more civility than anything you'll see on reality TV.

Two class action suits demanding more than $4 million in overtime violations just settled.

Two lawsuits filed in 2005 alleged that TV networks and production companies underpaid story department employees on reality programs including "The Bachelor," "The Bachelorette," "Renovate My Family," and "Trading Spouses."

Wednesday an LA Superior Court Judge gave preliminary approval to a $2.57 million settlement with Fox and Rocket Science Laboratories and a $1.54 million settlement with ABC, CBS , and a number of other defendants.

Now these story department employees would probably be called writers, if that didn't mean that they'd have to be part of the Writer's Guild. And the Writers Guild West supported these lawsuits as part of its ongoing plan to unionize reality workers.

The WGA accused the production houses of being sweatshops, lying, etc. The WGA would like to add this large and growing group of workers to its negotiating base, and the many of the reality show workers would probably like to get the minimum rates WGA members get. But if reality TV production houses had to hire guild members their production costs could shoot the roof.

So in the meantime, I wouldn't be surprised if we see more lawsuits -- and more settlements -- about reality TV payment

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.