Cine workers' strike continues, TV industry in doldrums
The channels have given a final ultimatum to the TV workers union.
Mumbai: The disagreement between the cine workers and producers associations has taken its toll - production has come to a halt and advertisers have issued a 10-day ultimatum to the channels to telecast fresh programmes if they wanted sponsors to stick with them.
Meanwhile, seven main broadcasters have threatened a blackout of fresh programming.They say they are unable to pay more.
Unless the channels comply, the advertising agencies have threatened that they would pull out block booking of ads on various shows. Advertisers argue that their clients are not interested in advertising their products during repeat telecast of old programmes as it may not get sufficient viewership.
This could spell a deep crisis for the television industry as its main revenue comes chiefly from advertisements.
Commenting on this, a Sony Entertainment spokesperson said that the business heads of various channels have met the key advertisers to defuse the crisis.
"Hopefully, everything will be alright by tomorrow," she said.
On the other hand, adopting a tough stand, the apex body of the cine workers, the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), has already conveyed to the television producers that it would "not compromise" on the ticklish issue of revised wages for the cine workers.
"Though the wages of cine workers were revised in 2006, no producers from television and film industry paid them the new rates.
"In the last two years, the entertainment industry's 150,000 cine workers were denied a total payment of about Rs 4 billion. Now we have refused to compromise any more," said Dinesh Chaturvedi, general secretary FWICE.
In retaliation, the television producers suspended the shootings of their current programmes since last month. They argued that unless the channels provide them the extra financial resources to meet the additional costs post-hike in the cine workers' wages, they would not be able to pay them the same.
"If we pay the cine workers the hiked wages, the cost of production of each episode of all TV shows would increase by Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000, which we can ill-afford at this stage," said Dheeraj Kumar, CEO, Creative Eye.
It may be recalled that the producers of film and television industry had already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the FWICE October 3, endorsing a 24 percent hike in wages for all categories of cine workers, over the rates agreed in an earlier agreement of 2006.