Saas-Bahus may run out of glycerin

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | November 03, 2008
If the current crisis situation in the television production industry prolongs, there will soon be no new content aired on GECs

The Hindi & #BANNER1 & # general entertainment category is facing the worst test of time. Soon there might be no fresh content telecast on the Hindi GECs owing to the increasing demands from the producers and the service providers. However, all the Hindi GE channels have come together and sent a memorandum to the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) and TV producers associations asking them to resolve the matter amicably and resume smooth functioning of business.

It all started early this month when the FWICE called a strike to protest against the low wages being offered to them by the producers of various shows on television. Daunted with such a demand, television producers' association in turn called for a strike and demanded higher prices from the broadcasters. In a number of occasions, the shooting was disrupted by worker unions and that led to very few hours of new content being shot and telecast on television.

According to broadcasters, not more than two-three hours of programming were being produced. STAR Plus's afternoon band went for a toss as the channel was constantly airing repeats of the show since last Friday. "We have been airing repeats in the 12-1 pm and 7-8 pm time slots since more than a week," informed Keertan Adyanthaya, executive vice-president and general manager, STAR Plus.

As of now most channels have been able to save its prime-time slot. But if the situation remains unchanged, soon there might not be any new programming on any Hindi GECs, leaving both the advertisers and audiences at a loss. In order to avoid such a chaos, all broadcasters got together on 31st October and issued a letter to both the parties in question, urging them to not include the broadcasters in their dispute and cause disruptions in their functioning.

The letter states: 'We must at the outset make it clear that we were never a party to the dispute which relates to the terms and conditions at which producers engage cine workers for the shows they produce for various broadcasters. Further the work disruptions occurred without due notice or warning at the worst possible time of economic downturn and advertising de-growth. Unless the dispute is resolved immediately, it will threaten the very survival of Hindi GE as a category.'

The broadcasters have given them time till November 9 for responding and making amends, failing which there won't be any fresh episodes being shown on any channel. Broadcasters claim that they are in no position to give in to their demands as the industry's revenues have been affected due to the economic crises and believe that the producers are being paid handsomely already. 'The broadcasters have been paying producers handsomely across shows and in turn we expect our producers to pay fair rates and on a timely basis to their service providers', the letter states.

So while the broadcasters hope that the conflict is resolved, the viewers will have to make do with repeats of some of the programmes.