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Serial killer

Television soaps will continue to elude viewers in the country as channels, producers and technicians refuse to budge from their respective stands which led to the impasse.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2008 01:03 IST
HT Correspondent

Television soaps will continue to elude viewers in the country as channels, producers and technicians refuse to budge from their respective stands which led to the impasse.

The channels are broadcasting repeat shows of serials since Monday this week after refusing to increase payments that the producers demanded in order to pay more to technicians. The technicians asked for increments following an MoU to that effect between them and the producers signed last month.

Accepting the demand of the producers would mean escalation of cost by Rs 1.25 to Rs 1.5 lakh per episode, channel managements said on Friday. As the rates are fixed on the basis of popularity and success of a serial, a blanket hike in fees across the board was entirely unreasonable, they claimed.

“Obviously we cannot pass on the burden to advertisers considering the economic climate and simultaneous drop in volume as well as rates,” said a top official of a leading entertainment channel.

Producers should be true to their commitment to the technicians, claimed an official of another leading channel. “The producers are making about 25 to 30 per cent profit per episode and finally they are hiring the technicians, not us,” he said.

“The demand of producers is flawed, in the financial parlance as well in view of current economic environment,” said Star chief operating officer, Uday Shankar.

But the producers argued that in the process of collective bargaining, no one could shirk responsibility. “There is no one to blame here, the system is obsolete,” said Mukesh Bhatt, Secretary of the Producers Union. “All three parties — producers, technicians and channels — have to be on the same page and that is what we are working at achieving.”

It has been two years since technicians received any increment, claimed Dharmesh Tiwari, president, Federation of Western India Cine Employees. “The MoU, signed on October 3, is yet to be honoured. We are open to any proposal to resolve the issue,” he said. But he also added that channels should to be made part of the solution. Reality shows have not been affected by the strike because the technicians are paid a standard amount.