‘Air’ writers win suit over payment

First time Oz scribes take producer to legal arbitration

SYDNEY — In a landmark legal decision for Oz scribes, writers of pubcaster ABC’s drama series “Something in the Air” won a long-running dispute against the show’s producers Beyond Simpson Le Mesurier.

It was the first time Australian TV writers had taken a producer to legal arbitration. The judgment found the producers had infringed the agreement under which series and serial writers are contracted and was paying writers 25% below the acceptable minimum for the work undertaken.

The judgment also criticized Beyond Simpson Le Mesurier for making routine deductions from writers’ fees and declared the company liable for recompensation.

“Writers are already severely underpaid compared to other TV industry workers and in this period of downturn for Australian drama production, writers are an easy target for profit-hungry broadcasters and penny-pinching producers,” said Australian Writers Guild prexy Ian David, who hailed the decision as a historic vindication of scribes’ rights.

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