Statement on Comcast/NBCUniversal's takeover of Time Warner Cable from Writers Guild of America, East
February 14, 2014
The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) opposes the takeover of Time Warner Cable by Comcast/NBCUniversal.
For some time, we have been concerned about media consolidation. In 2010, the WGAE came out against Comcast's takeover of NBCUniversal because it created a structure and incentive for a mega-cable company to favor content from the mega-production company it purchased. That meant fewer choices for consumers, less diversity and fewer opportunities for content creators to get their work before an audience.
This is not an abstract concern. Currently, Comcast/NBCUniversal is thwarting efforts of writer-producers at the NBCUniversal-owned Peacock Productions to bargain for such basic protections as minimum compensation rates, affordable health benefits, and paid time off.
In 2012, these writer-producers came to the Writers Guild of America, East for help. In October of that year, we filed for an NLRB election. NBCU lawyers claimed that half of these hard-working television professionals deserved no protection at all under the National Labor Relations Act and had no right to representation.
After an extensive hearing, the NLRB ruled in April 2013 that all of these employees had the right to participate, and in June 2013 a secret ballot election was held. But because of legal maneuvering by NBCU's attorneys, those ballots are still sitting in a box, uncounted - fully a year and a half after the process began.
That is the power and danger of media conglomerates that have pockets so deep they can afford to stall and evade a basic responsibility owed to their own employees – the responsibility to honor the results of a secret ballot vote for representation.
We urge the FCC to take action against this merger. To give a giant corporation like Comcast/NBCUniversal even more clout in the marketplace -- and in the workplace – is simply wrong.
ABOUT WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
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Writers Guild of America, East