NLRB backs NBC in WGA spat

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The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against the WGA in a dispute with NBC Universal over some proposed webisode spinoffs from its network-produced shows.

The complaint charges that the guild improperly encouraged writer-producers on "Crossing Jordan," "The Office" and other shows produced by NBC Universal Television Studio to refuse to cooperate with webisodes production. The situation is related to a WGA demand that NBC pay residuals for such Internet reuse of TV content.

The peacock, arguing that the webisodes were strictly promotional in nature, refused to pay webisode residuals and filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB.

A transcript of the NLRB complaint was not available. But both parties in the dispute acknowledged that the complaint has been issued and a hearing is expected on the matter in mid- to late December.

"We deny that we have violated the law and will file an answer within the next two weeks," WGA West general counsel Tony Segall said.

An NBC Universal Television spokesman said: "We are pleased that the National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against the WGA supporting our position. We look forward to continuing to be able to create and produce Internet content to promote and supplement our programming."

Execs hope to persuade showrunners and others to resume cooperating with scripted webisode production immediately. The network has been using other sorts of Internet promos while the webisode dispute was being sorted out, the spokesman said.

NBC also aims to produce webisodes for shows including "Heroes" and "Battlestar Galactica."
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