Guild leaders to talk shop in D.C.

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WASHINGTON -- As the writers strike grinds on, two of Hollywood's labor leaders are making a visit to the nation's capital Wednesday to discuss policy issues with policymakers.

In a whirlwind visit, WGA West president Patric Verrone and SAG president Alan Rosenberg are scheduled to meet with House and Senate lawmakers as well as members of the FCC, guild sources said.

Although the leaders are scheduled to discuss issues surrounding the use of product integration in movies and TV shows and their hope to convince lawmakers and FCC officials of the need of independent programming requirements, they also expect to get questions about the strike.

Outside of the appointment of mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez, the federal government hasn't paid much attention to the writers strike.

That doesn't mean, however, that it has gone without notice, and Verrone and Rosenberg expect the issue to come up as they make their rounds.

Product integration, the practice of insinuating name-brand products as part of the narrative, has been a contentious issue between the guilds and the studios.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin has been receptive to at least examining the guilds' arguments. Martin this year launched an investigation into the process, saying the public has the right to know when it is the target of a sales pitch.

Martin has been less understanding about the guilds' desire to require that a portion of primetime be set aside for independent programming.

On Tuesday, Martin released his plan to ease media-ownership requirements by making it easier for newspaper-TV combinations in the nation's biggest markets.

While he told The Hollywood Reporter that he did not include the guilds' request in his plan, he did not rule out taking it up.

"I think the commission will have to entertain what it is going to do on one thing or another," Martin said. "But I don't have any comment on what I am going to propose on those issues."
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