Fremantle Fires Back

As you all know, the Writers Guild of America launched its American Idol Truth Tour last week to help unionize reality TV and fight unfair labor practices against writers.  In yesterday’s LA Times, Fremantle fights back.  Here’s the article…

Fremantle disputes WGA claims about working conditions and says not all of its shows use writers.
By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

July 19, 2008

Reality TV producer FremantleMedia North America fired back at the
Writers Guild of America, West, dismissing its “American Idol” Truth
Tour as nothing more than a caravan of misinformation.

WGA allegations that are leveled against Fremantle are not true and
just another example of their campaign of defamation and negative
propaganda,” said David Shall, executive vice president of business
operations for Fremantle, which produces several reality TV programs,
including the Fox hit “American Idol.”

Shall was responding to a
campaign the guild launched this week intended to highlight the adverse
working conditions of writers on “American Idol” and other Fremantle
shows. Among other things, guild officials allege that Fremantle has
denied overtime pay and meal breaks to writers and other workers.

But Fremantle executives call such claims baseless. The guild’s dispute
with Fremantle began last year, when it urged four writers on the game
show “Temptation” to walk off the job. The union has since helped
several Fremantle employees file wage and hour claims, which have been
settled or are pending.

union wants Fremantle to agree to a contract covering writers on all of
its reality and game shows, which Fremantle argues is unreasonable
because not all of the company’s shows, including “American Idol,” use
writers — an assertion the union disputes.

Fremantle recently
negotiated a contract with the guild to cover its game show “Match
Game” and noted that it had agreements with other unions, including the
Directors Guild of America.

“They want a blanket contract to
cover every one of our shows, whether we need writers or not,” Shall
said. “Our position is that most of our reality shows and a good chunk
of our game shows don’t need writers.”

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