Argentine TV dispute enters 3rd day

Actors, broadcasters resume strike talks

BUENOS AIRES — Argentine actors, broadcasters and producers Wednesday failed for a third day to reach an agreement to end a dispute that has stopped the production of fiction series.

Reps for the Argentine Assn. of Actors, the Argentine Chamber of Independent Television Producers (Capit) and the networks will return to the bargaining table Thursday afternoon at the Labor Ministry, a spokesman for the government department said.

According to people close to the situation, three proposals are under analysis.

They all call for capping work time for actors at 46 hours a week, rather than the current 55.

One option is not to limit daily shifts, as long as the weekly working time doesn’t exceed 46 hours. Another is to allow only three 11-hour shifts a week, and the third is to divide the 46 hours into five shifts.

Actors have been clamoring for producers to cut daily shifts to 8.45 hours from 11, as well as to increase pay.

Yet producers say the cut would make it impossible to make dramas and telenovelas, which they say require actors to be on set at least nine hours a day.

With the conflict, broadcasters kept fiction off the air for a third straight day Wednesday, leaving viewers without popular programs like comedy “Son de Fierro” (They Are Fierro) on Artear-Canal 13 and womanizer comedy “Lalola” on America TV. To fill the gaps, nets are extending newscasts, yakkers and variety programs.

If the standoff continues, there are concerns of losses for broadcasters from lower ad revenue — fiction series carry some of the highest rates. Strike could also delay shoots for series due in 2008, which could delay export deals.

Argentine networks rely on domestic fare for three-quarters of their programming, with much of it coming from indie producers Cris Morena Group, Dori Media Group, Endemol, Ideas del Sur and Pol-ka.

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