India TV viewers shop, sleep as soaps go off air

Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:11am EST
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By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Reuters Life!) - Television viewers in India are shopping, hitting the gym or sleeping early as an impasse between producers and workers in film and television over higher pay has forced broadcasters to air repeats of popular soaps.

The lobby group representing thousands of workers in the film and television industry based in Mumbai is pressing for higher wages and more benefits that producers are unwilling to accept.

"There has been no progress in our talks," said Dharmesh Tiwari, president of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees, which represents about 150,000 workers, and which had struck work for several days last month, as well.

"They are asking us to reduce our demands, but we cannot tell or members to walk instead of taking a bus or eat less food."

Broadcasters say they are themselves under cost pressure.

"The work disruption comes at the worst possible time (with) an economic downturn and advertising degrowth," the top broadcasters said in a joint statement.

"Unless the dispute is resolved immediately, it will threaten the very survival of Hindi general entertainment as a category."


<p>A man looks at television screens displaying India's Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram presenting the annual budget, at a consumer shop in Mumbai February 29, 2008. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe</p>