Want To Break Your TV News Contract,
But Aren't Sure How?
Want To Break Your
TV News Contract,
But Aren't Sure How?
Written by News Gal
🕒 June 19, 2018
If you work on-air in TV news you’re likely under contract.
I’ve only heard of a handful of stations that don’t make their talent sign contracts. My contracts have ranged from two years to three and a half years. I had one co-worker who signed a five year deal. I hate contracts. They protect the company, not you.
Your contract will tell you that your bosses can fire you if they don’t like you anymore, but if you don’t like the station anymore, you can’t escape.
At some point in your career you’ll probably consider breaking a contract.
It’s a huge decision, and it could cost you a ton of money, but it could also be the best decision you ever make.
I’ve broken a contract. It was stressful, scary, and expensive, but it was worth it. I’ve had friends who have broken contracts with no penalties, and friends who have tried to break their contract and have ended up going to court over it.
Here’s my advice if you’re going to break your contract. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. These are just tips I’ve picked up from my years in the business.
1. Talk to a lawyer.
If you want to break your contract, have an attorney take a look at your current deal with your station.
He or she will be able to tell you legally what station management can threaten you with, and what action they will likely take. It’s always nice to be able to say “My lawyer advised me…” when you’re in with the big bosses. It’s also nice to have a lawyer you can call when breaking your contract gets messy.
Hiring an attorney can be expensive, I know. Do you have a friend or family member who would be willing to give you advice for free? There’s also Rick Carr at tvcontract.com.
He’s a super nice guy who used to be in the business. He’s now a lawyer who only works with people in TV news. He tells you upfront what the costs will be, and he is very accessible. Rick didn’t ask me to say any of that, in fact, he has no idea I’m mentioning him. I’ve worked with him, and he’s awesome.
2. Talk to your boss first.
Before you go telling your co-workers that you’re going to leave, talk to your boss. It’s much better if he or she hears it from you than from the gossip mill.
When you talk to your news director, be honest but don’t give away too much. If you’re leaving because you landed a job at another station, do not tell your boss that information.
A lot of stations will threaten to sue the company that hired you because they’ll say they tampered with their employee.
If you’re leaving because of something like harassment, a medical issue, a family emergency, or because you need to relocate due to your husband or wife moving to another city, then be honest. Tell your boss what’s going on because they might be more flexible with you.
I’ve also seen news directors be kinder about someone leaving early if they’re getting out of TV news.
When you talk with your boss be confident, professional, and be prepared for a battle. Most bosses are not just going to say, OK. Most of them will tell you you cannot leave, and will try to make it extremely difficult.
3. Have a backup plan
What are you going to do if your contract is so tight that there is no way to leave? You’ve already let your boss know that you’re unhappy and want to leave. This can make for an extremely awkward and tense situation.
If it turns out you can’t get out of your contract, make sure you keep working just as hard as always, and don’t bad mouth the company to your co-workers. You don’t want to burn any other bridges.
When I broke my contract it was a terrible situation. I left my station because my newsroom was toxic. I was sick to my stomach every day that I had to work there. I wasn’t the only one.
I had to pay a ton of money to get out of my contract, and while that caused a TON of stress, it was totally worth it. I moved on to a different station in a different market, and I was so much happier.
I didn’t hire an attorney when I was going through all of this, but I wish I had. I think I would have been able to save some money.
Some of my friends who have broken their contracts have been threatened by their company that they will sue them, but nothing comes of it. I know one person who did get sued, and ended up settling out of court.
If you’re going to break your contract, I hope it goes as smoothly as possible, and that the end result makes you happy.