WGA-US TV producers talks to continue Wednesday

MUMBAI: The next few days could prove crucial to the American film and television industry. The Writers Guild Of America (WGA) has not yet been able to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in the US.

The WGA and AMPTP along with the four broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox will continue deliberations on 5 May. The Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) between the guilds and the companies had expired yesterday.

This is a far cry from the situation in India where writers are given short shrift. There are cases where people are given their payments several months or even a year later after completing their task. Because there is no union as such at the most what you have are prompt but poor paymasters.

In the US on the other hand talks have been focused on a number of issues. These include health benefits, cuts from DVDs, made-for-Pay TV, sequel and character payments, Daytime TV, travel allowances. The DVD arena is one of the major concerns for the parties. While the WGA wants a larger slice of the pie the producers are said to be flat out against it citing rising production costs. The DVD market is estimated at $15 billion but the producers are claiming that if it had not been for DVDs, which are outstripping theatre grosses they would have great difficulty recouping their investments.

The talks are heavily under wraps and news outlets have not been made privy to the discussions. Negotiations have been going on for over a month in Hollywood. The possibility of a similar strike that took place a few years ago by Sag is not beyond the realms of possibility. The last time the WGA went on strike was way back in 1988. Meanwhile a report in Variety has indicated that the strike needs to be resolved before 17 May. That is when the broadcasters will have their upfront meeting with the ad community.

Lending weight to the WGA's cause is the fact that members of fellow unions Sag, Aftra and the DGA have been at the talks.

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