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Mon, Nov 19, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Writers Guild resumes negotiations

SAME OLD, SAME OLD Late-night television went into reruns on the first day of the strike and ratings have fallen as viewers switch away from repeats of programs


The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and Writers Guild of America agreed on Friday night to resume formal negotiations, 12 days after Hollywood writers went on strike.

The two sides will meet next Monday. No other details were released in e-mailed statements issued by both sides. Studio alliance spokesman Jesse Hiestand confirmed the news and declined to comment further. Representatives of the Writers Guild didn't return calls.

The Writers Guild called a strike on Nov. 5 after failing to reach an agreement with studios for a cut of revenue from programs distributed on the Web and mobile phones.

The last writers' strike, which was in 1988, lasted 22 weeks, the guild said.

Late-night television went into reruns on the first day of this strike and ratings have fallen as viewers switched away from repeats of The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Late Night With David Letterman.

TV producers have been able to hold out longer before scheduling reruns of dramas and comedies because they've stockpiled enough scripts to keep going for several months. Movie studios have done the same.

CBS Corp, owner of the most-watched television network, probably would take the biggest hit in a prolonged strike by TV and movie writers.

CBS gets two-thirds of its sales and profit from television. The New York-based company relies more on scripted shows such as CSI than competitors and is vulnerable to advertising losses, Lehman Bros analyst Anthony DiClemente said in an earlier interview.

"CBS has the most exposure to network TV and TV stations," said DiClemente, who is based in New York.

He recommends holding the stock and doesn't own it.

ABC parent Walt Disney Co, Fox network owner News Corp and General Electric Co's NBC are cushioned by other businesses, including theme parks, publishing and cable networks that focus on news and sports.

A settlement by year-end would probably mean limited or no financial loss, said Tuna Amobi, an analyst at Standard & Poor's in New York, in an earlier interview.

He recommends buying News Corp and Disney shares and holding CBS.

Consumers are expected to spend US$16.4 billion on DVDs and other video formats this year, according to Adams Media Research. Movies over the Internet will take in US$160 million, while US$312 million will be spent on TV shows over the Web, according to Adams estimates.

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