NLRB rules for writers in webisode tiff


Studios can't force guild writers to work on webisode spinoffs of TV shows.

That's the practical result of a final ruling by the National Labor Relations Board in a case involving "Crossing Jordan, "The Office" and other shows produced by NBC Universal Television Studio.

In a July 31 decision announced Wednesday, the NLRB adopted the February recommendation of an administrative judge and dismissed an unfair labor practice complaint lodged by NBC Uni against the WGA West. NBC Universal had accused the guild of improperly encouraging writer-producers to refuse to cooperate with webisodes production.

The NLRB issued a complaint against the WGAW in October, based on the NBC Uni charge. But in the latest ruling, a three-member panel nixed the studio's appeal of the earlier ruling by Judge Gregory Meyerson.

"We are pleased by the board's decision, which reaffirms the guild's right to represent its members in the growing new-media marketplace," WGAW executive director David Young said. "Whether downloaded, streamed or broadcast, it's all about quality content, and writers deserve fair compensation for what they create. The guild stands ready to negotiate a deal that is mutually beneficial for all parties involved."

The situation ultimately traces to WGA demands that NBC broaden writers' compensation for Internet content. NBC Uni and other studios contend that many of their new-media projects are mere promotional extensions of conventional shows and are resisting the calls for extra pay.

A spokesman for NBC Universal Television declined comment on the latest ruling, saying execs had not seen the decision.