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Learning English - Words in the News
07 November, 2007 - Published 17:09 GMT
Hollywood writers' strike
Hollywood sign

Talks to try to prevent a Hollywood writers' strike have broken down in Los Angeles. Members of the Writers' Guild of America say they're going to walk out indefinitely to pursue their claim for a pay rise. This report from Peter Bowes:

Listen to the story

After talking with studio negotiators for almost twelve hours, union officials said no settlement had been reached and the strike would go ahead. Picket lines will be set up outside all the main Hollywood studios. The union's twelve thousand members are being told to stop working on all their writing projects.

The Writers' Guild is demanding a greater share of the profits from TV shows sold on DVD, as well as those that can be downloaded on the internet and seen on mobile phones.

In the United States the first casualties are likely to be the late night chat shows. Without the writers, the comedians won't have any jokes to tell. The TV networks have stockpiled episodes of popular dramas and comedies, like Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty, but if the dispute drags on they're likely to show more repeats or turn to reality television.

The strike is expected to have a ripple effect throughout Los Angeles, with businesses that rely on the entertainment industry being hit hard. One estimate puts the potential cost to the city at a billion dollars.

Peter Bowes, BBC News, Los Angeles

Listen to the words

studio negotiators
people who work for TV companies and who try to reach an agreement between the two sides in this dispute

when workers refuse to go to their usual place of work because as a group (in a union) they have a disagreement with the management about pay or conditions

Picket lines
A group of workers who protest outside a building to stop other workers from going inside, usually during a strike

The Writers' Guild
the official workers' union for writers in the USA

the first casualties
the people or things (here, TV programmes) that will be badly affected first

chat shows
TV programmes where a host interviews celebrities (in the US, chat shows also usually begin with the host telling some up-to-date or topical jokes)

drags on
goes on for a long time and is inconvenient, boring or unpleasant

shows that are broadcast more than once on TV

to have a ripple effect
have more than one obvious consequence. A ripple effect happens when one incident produces effects which spread and produce further effects, etc.

hit hard
very badly affected

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