Mumbai, Nov 9 (IANS) With the television channels refusing to bear the extra production costs, producers of television programme are in a fix as no solution has been found for the cine workers' agitation for a hike in their wages.
Representatives of television channels in a joint letter to the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) said: 'We were never a party to the dispute that relates to the terms and conditions on which producers engage cine workers for the shows they produce for various broadcasters.'
This was the second letter the channels wrote to FWICE last week, wishing to stay out of the dispute.
In their earlier joint letter, the channel declined to bear additional burden following the cine workers' demand for higher wages because 'the negotiated per episode cost' had already been settled with the producers.
But the tone of the latest letter the channels have jointly written to FWICE is a little different as it said in clear terms that the broadcasters 'have been paying producers handsomely across shows', and therefore 'we expect our producers to pay fair rates and on a timely basis to their service providers'.
Turning down the plea of the producers to increase the quantum of money for the currently-running shows, the channels have, in fact, told them that 'in the present circumstances, it is impossible for us to absorb any cost increases.'
'The slowdown in the global and domestic economy has already impacted broadcast revenues and the situation is expected to become worse over the coming months. In this scenario, the long-term health of the industry depends on our ability to work collectively to control our costs,' the letter said.
The production has now come to a standstill as the producers have refused to shoot for their on-going TV programmes and cine workers are firm on their demand for revised wages. Also, the channels have washed their hands of the current stalemate in the production sector.
The channels had earlier asked the producers and FWICE to break the stalemate by Nov 9, failing which, they said, they would not be in a position 'to afford fresh episodes of any show'.
This only means that, from Nov 10 onwards, the channels would have no option but to re-run the already telecast programmes, as there is no solution to the crisis in sight as of Nov 9.
'I do not know what the channels want to do under the present circumstances, but I would not be surprised if they take the drastic step of refusing to fund the fresh episodes of the programmes and I would not blame them for that,' FWICE president Dharmesh Tiwari told IANS Sunday.
Tiwari brushed aside the producers' alibi that the cost of their programmes would rise manifold if they have to pay revised wages to the cine workers.
'But in order to cut costs, why are the producers harping on the wages of the cine workers? Can't they reduce costs on other heads of their production budgets?,' he asked.
The terms of the memorandum of understanding that all the three bodies of producers finally endorsed on Oct 3 this year were drafted three years ago and, therefore, they could not possibly be unaware of the imminent wage hike of the cine workers, he said.