WGAw Fires Back

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Responding to a complaint filed a day earlier by NBC Universal with the National Labor Relations Board over some showrunners’ unwillingness to work on Web-based extensions of their series, the Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw) late Friday fired back, saying the company’s claim has “no merit.”

“We are disappointed that NBC has decided to file legal claims rather than to negotiate,” a brief WGAw statement said. “Our members are eager to do this new work, and we remain available to negotiate employment terms covering the writing of webisodes and other material created for new technology platforms.”

In an escalating sign of strife between the networks and unions, which face a heated contract battle starting late next year when the WGA pact expires, NBC U claimed the guild had sought to have writers and producers on NBC U properties Crossing Jordan, The Office, Heroes and Sci Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica stop work on the Internet-related programs.

NBC U is trying to get the NLRB to compel the showrunners, who are not under WGAw jurisdiction, to continue working on the Web episodes, insisting that they are already covered under the current guild contract. It claims production on the two- to four-minute episodes, which typically cost $5,000 or less, has been stalled since June.

The networks, calling the episodes promotional vehicles rather than revenue generators, have steered clear of paying writers for their work on them.

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