Guild Praises Martin Request For Info On CBS Negotiations

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The Writers Guild of America, East, which is in contentious and protracted negotiations with CBS (and ABC) over a new contract, praised FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's request for information on the issues between the Writers Guild of America, East, and CBS in their two-years-long contract dispute.

Martin sent letters to the heads of both the guild and CBS asking for the information within 30 days of the Feb. 7 letter's date.

That request was prompted by one from New York Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey wrote Martin asking him about the impasse and issues raised over the affect of consolidation on news quality.

The unions have raised that issue at FCC media ownership hearings and in filings at the FCC on its review of media ownership rules.

According to a copy of Martin's letter to Hinchey obtained by B&C, Martin says he has contacted CBS and the guild asking for their take on the negotiation, saying he would report to Hinchey and he shared Hinchey's "support for preserving and promoting the principles of localism, diversity, and competition that have served as the foundation for broadcast regulation for more than fifty years."

According to a letter to from Martin to CBS President Les Moonves, also obtained by B&C, he tells Moonves that "The commission requests information regarding concerns that "CBS seeks the authority to 'remove news producers from bargaining units, terminate workers in the event of mergers, and even merge the newsrooms of competing stations,' and that 'if such actions proceed unchallenged, audiences will be denied the variety of news sources and local coverage necessary for an in a formatted participatory democratic society." In both cases, Martin was quoting language from Hinchey's letter to Him.

Martin gave Moonves 30 days from the Feb. 7 letter date.

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