This blog post is my official thanks to the people of the United Kingdom. Due to the policies of your publicly funded British Broadcasting Corporation, I just made the easiest $80 of my life.
The BBC, I have discovered, has an unusual policy of paying those it interviews on-air. Most Americans would be surprised by this, since only tabloids like "Star" pay for interviews in the U.S. In my personal experience giving interviews in American media, I have always done it for my ego, for publicity, or just to be a nice guy.
But every few months, in my capacity as an "expert" on the entertainment industry, I get a call from the BBC asking me to comment. Sometimes I turn them down because the question is about some topic like the Eagles going back on tour that I know nothing about. But if I ever feel remotely qualified to talk, I do it. Why? They pay. And handsomely.
I just got my latest check, for about $80 (I don't have it in front of me, but it was just over $80, I recall). For what? An interview that lasted literally two minutes about Americans' reaction to the movie "300" and how I think it will perform overseas. Let's be generous and count every second of time that had something to do with the interview. There was a five minute phone call in which they asked me to do the interview and we discussed the topic. I spent about three minutes on hold waiting for the interview to start. And maybe one minute afterward giving somebody my address and Social Security number.
That's 11 minutes for over $80. Could be the easiest money I ever made in my life.
I'll be honest: I'm hoping nobody at the BBC reads this because I don't want the cash cow to end. But if I were a British citizen paying my taxes, I'd be a little peeved. (I just checked and it turns out the BBC World Service, on which I do my interviews, is funded by a separate government grant and not the $266 annual license fee every British citizen pays for their ad-free TV)
While it's nice to compensate experts for their time, it is, let's be honest, excessive. And for the record, while I'm tempted to blame this on the lack of commercial incentives, it can't be just that. I've been interviewed by NPR a few times and got nothing more than a "thank you" e-mail.
I guess I'll consider this my soul cleansing because I always feel a little guilty getting those checks that I honestly don't deserve. And now that it's done... give me a call, BBC. I'm saving for a house.