UPDATE, 2PM: Following their West Coast brethren, the Writers Guild Of America East today also came out against the proposed Comcast purchase of Time Warner Cable. Claiming that “Comcast/NBCUniversal want to further reduce competition at the expense of consumers and the people who create content,” the WGA East bluntly added “it would simply be wrong to give a giant corporation like Comcast/NBCUniversal even more clout in the marketplace, and in the workplace.” Read the full statement from the WGA East below our previous post.
PREVIOUS, 1:24PM: The Writers Guild of America West didn’t leave much room for ambiguity on their feelings about Comcast’s newly announced $45.2B all-stock deal to purchase Time Warner Cable. “Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable is bad for everyone: content creators, programmers, suppliers, and consumers,” said the Guild today in a statement. “As writers know all too well, media consolidation leads to already too powerful companies limiting competition. The WGAW will fight to stop this ill-conceived merger.” The proposed megamerger has to go through a regulatory approval process from the FCC and the DOJ before it’s a done deal. Today’s vehement remarks by the WGAW comes as both the West and East coast divisions of the WGA are close to wrapping up their second week of negotiations for new 3-year contract with the studios and the networks. Those talks got off to a tense start on February 3 at the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers‘ Sherman Oaks HQ.
WGA East Statement on Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger
NEW YORK, NY (February 13, 2014) – The Writers Guild of America, East opposes the takeover of Time Warner Cable by Comcast/NBCUniversal.
We have been concerned for some time about continued consolidation in both the distribution and production portions of the media industry.
In 2010, the Writers Guild of America, East opposed Comcast’s takeover of NBCUniversal because it created a structure and incentive for a mega-cable company to favor content from the mega-production company it purchased. That meant fewer choices for consumers and fewer opportunities for content creators to get their work out to audiences.
Now, Comcast/NBCUniversal want to further reduce competition at the expense of consumers and the people who create content.
This is not an abstract concern. Comcast/NBCUniversal is currently thwarting efforts of writer-producers at the NBCUniversal-owned Peacock Productions to bargain for basic protections like minimum compensation rates, affordable health benefits, and paid time off. These writer-producers came to the Writers Guild of America, East in 2012, and we filed for an NLRB election in October of that year. NBCU lawyers claimed that half of these hard-working television professionals deserved no protection at all under the National Labor Relations Act and had no right to representation. After an extensive hearing, the NLRB ruled in April 2013 that all of these employees had the right to participate, and in June 2013 the NLRB conducted a secret ballot election. However, because of legal maneuvering by NBCU’s attorneys, those ballots are still sitting in a box, uncounted – fully a year and a half after the process began.
That is the power and danger of media conglomerates that have pockets so deep they can afford to stall and evade even the most basic responsibility owed to their own employees – the responsibility to honor a secret ballot vote for representation.
It would simply be wrong to give a giant corporation like Comcast/NBCUniversal even more clout in the marketplace, and in the workplace.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.