The future of the US cartoon series the Simpsons is in doubt after 20th Century Fox Television said it could no longer afford to produce the show without its voice actors taking a huge pay cut.
The company issued a statement after a report said it had threatened to end the cartoon unless the actors accepted a 45% pay cut.
"We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the voice cast that allows the Simpsons to go on entertaining audiences with original episodes for many years to come," the statement said.
The Simpsons, the longest-running comedy series on US television, is currently in its 23rd season on Fox. The show generates billions of dollars through global syndication as well as DVD and merchandise sales.
The Fox statement followed a report on the Daily Beast news website., which said the principal voice cast members – including the voices of Homer (Dan Castellaneta), Marge (Julie Kavner), Bart (Nancy Cartwright) and Lisa (Yeardley Smith) – were having difficulty renegotiating contracts that currently see them earning around $ 8 million each per season.