Film and TV writers on strike over royalty issues

  • Anjuri Nayar Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

After years of a stand-off with producers over credit, and royalty issues, writers in the film industry have gone on strike, and the television and movie business has shut down for the time being.

“Yes, we are on strike since yesterday, and the reasons are simple. The working conditions for writers are not conducive,” confirms Mayur Puri, writer and executive committee member of FWA (Film Writers Association). Elaborating on the issue, Puri tells us that the FWA had put together a Minimum Basic Contract (MBC) in 2009 which entailed a standard contract for film and TV writers and lyricists, which had a minimum payment structure. However, that wasn’t implemented. “It is 2015, and the producers have not had one fruitful meeting with us,” he says, adding that their strike is being supported by all technicians, and most actors and directors too.

Backing Puri, television show writer Vinod Tharani says that the entire payment structure needs to be looked into before the strike is called off. “The writer is only paid once the episode is telecast, which is usually after three months. A certain percentage should be given to us before we start,” he says.

Meanwhile, The Film & Television Producers Guild of India has approached the court. “This strike is the result of arrogance and power of the leaders of the federation. But we have gone to court and got the judgment that no one will be forced not to work. I have also met the commissioner of police and the chief minister and they have assured us that security will be provided at all our sets,” says guild president Mukesh Bhatt.

Trade analyst Atul Mohan says that while films won’t be affected too much, TV will be the worst hit if the protest continues for long. “TV shows have just 5-6 days worth of episodes in their bank. So, if the strike does not end, they will lose out on money,” he says. Confirms TV show producer Vikas Seth. “We shoot daily and business will be affected during strike.”

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