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Soaps losing lather? Channels sorry for re-runs

Nov 12, 2008 02:56 AM IST India India

Mumbai: All you avid Saas Bahu viewers will have to do with re-runs of your favourite soaps for some more time. Producers have admitted that talks with the Workers Federation on the wage issue remained in a deadlock, but negotiations are still on.

“The workers, producers and broadcasters have to sit on the same platform to solve the issues. We have to understand each other's problems,” Chairperson of the Producers’ Core Committee Mukesh Bhatt said.

Meanwhile, the channels have distanced themselves from the producer-worker dispute and are apologising to the viewer for the re-runs.

“We are a victim of this unfortunate impasse between the producers and the workers,” CEO of Star TV Uday Shankar said.

But what does a prime time soap on a leading channel cost? We were told, around Rs 6 lakh and with high TRP shows charging huge premiums that push budgets upto Rs 15 lakh or more.

Of the budget around 40 per cent goes to the actors, directors and writers. Around 35 per cent is spent on sets and equipment, producers keep 10 per cent as their margin and the remaining 15 per cent is the workers’ share.

“We have been waiting for a solution but what can we do? We have repeatedly spoken to all producers but to no avail,” Dinesh Chaturvedi, a member of the Workers Federation, said.

Meanwhile, Convenor of ITA Shashi Ranjan said, “It has to be settled amicably because the implications are going to be huge. They are going to be huge losses.”

With upto nine minutes of commercial time in every half-hour and ad rates between Rs 1 and 2 lakh for every 10 seconds, channels rake in upto Rs 1 crore per episode but are not prepared to raise budgets. They say that show sponsors and advertisers, too, are backing them.

Vice-President of Sony Entertainment Television Albert Almeida said, “We have briefed many on the implications this impasse could have on the cost structure in the industry.”

But if the deadlock carries on, advertisers may switch loyalty and Hindi film channels may be the big gainers.

(With inputs from Varsha Pillai)