Feds favor NBC on Web

Gov't rule against scribes

The federal government has sided with NBC Universal TV and against the Writers Guild of America West in a dispute over made-for-Internet content.

A complaint by NBC U alleged that the guild is violating labor law by telling showrunners not to cooperate in the production of Webisodes. The WGA has denied it’s doing so.

But the net announced Monday that the National Labor Relations Board has sided with NBC U and deemed the WGA’s actions illegal because the Peacock has an existing deal that allows it to ask TV producers to produce made-for-Internet content for four shows it owns — “Battlestar Galactica,” “Crossing Jordan,” “Heroes” and “The Office.”

The labor board will now move forward with the complaint and is expected to hold a hearing before an administrative law judge on a proposed injunction in December.

NBC first announced in August it was going to the NLRB with the complaint, which seeks an injunction against the WGA West. Net asserted that the guild was violating labor law by telling showrunners not to provide supervisory services for the Webisodes because the guild lacks jurisdiction over supervisory services.

But Anthony Segall, outside counsel for the WGA West, told Daily Variety that NBC Universal has mis-characterized the guild’s actions. “We have made it clear to executive producers that we do not represent them in their roles as executives,” he added.

Segall said the guild will file a response to the complaint within a week. He also asserted that the guild’s position is supported by three Supreme Court cases.

Dispute stems from NBC U’s assertion that the Webisodes are promotional while the guild claims they represent separate writing work from work on the series and should be covered separately by its minimum basic agreement.

NBC Universal TV also complained two months ago that the WGA had violated the guild’s basic agreement when it told writers on the shows not to write for the Webisodes unless they performed those service under the mininum basic agreement. The NLRB deferred that part of the complaint to an arbitrator.

NBC has placed a high priority on adding a digital component, such as Webisodes, to its series.

“We are pleased that the National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against the WGA supporting our position,” the network said in a statement issued Monday. “We look forward to continuing to be able to create and produce Internet content to promote and supplement our programming.”

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