WGA in standoff with CBS

Eye's move to combine radio station staffs at issue

The Writers Guild of America has reported little progress in its first negotiations with CBS in seven months. Scribes continue to oppose the net’s demand to consolidate staffs at CBS radio stations.

In an update issued Wednesday after two days of talks in Gotham, WGA East president Chris Albers noted that the current contract has been extended by more than a year since its expiration.

“It is long past the time for CBS to negotiate a fair contract that does not take away our union’s jurisdiction and that respects the contributions of our WGA members,” he said.

The next negotiation session was set for June 21 in Los Angeles.

The guild and CBS are at odds over the net seeking the right to combine the newsrooms and consolidate the staffs of the two all-talk radio stations in Los Angeles, KNX 1070 and KFWB 980, along with combining New York all-news radio stations WCBS 880-AM and WINS 1010-AM.

The WGA has noted that such combos would allow CBS to air news content written by one staff on both stations without informing the public.

WGA West president Patric Verrone warned CBS that it’s risking alienating other guild members if it’s unresolved before negotiations start on the WGA’s minimum basic agreement.

“If this presentation is the best CBS can do to justify a proposal that will reduce guild coverage in CBS newsrooms, they are fighting a losing battle,” he said.

“If this contract remains open and bleeds into our MBA negotiations with CBS, this issue will confuse and confound other television and theatrical writers who regularly work as producers and writers under guild jurisdiction and who are extremely sensitive to losing writing jurisdiction in the name of change. Those writers will quickly move from disinterest to confusion to agitation and solidarity with newswriters.”

CBS declined to comment.

Contract covers about 500 news writers, editors, assistants, graphic artists and researchers. Stations covered include WCBS-TV, WBBM-AM, KNX-AM, KFWB-AM, KCAL-TV and KCBS-TV.

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