CBS News TV and Radio Writers 'Expected' to Strike Thursday

Uh oh! America might have to do without CBS' usual standard of news reporting if the network's news writers vote to strike Thursday. Hmm, what production staffer will ghostwrite “Katie Couric's Notebook” now?

November 12, the AP reported that CBS' 500 radio and television news writers, who belong to the Writers Guild Association East, “are expected to overwhelmingly approve a strike authorization” during Thursday's upcoming vote. This strike would follow the WGA drama and comedy writers walk out, which has shut down much of television.

TV Week reported the strike would "range from news writers and editors to desk assistants, promotions writers and researchers working for the network and its owned TV and radio stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington.”

The writers have been working with expired contracts since April 2005 said WGA East spokeswoman Sherry Goldman. According to TV Week, the writers have gone without a raise since 2004 and “nearly unanimously rejected the network's last offer."

TV Week had more details behind the looming strike (bold mine):

In a statement posted on the WGA, East, Web site, WGAE President Michael Winship said, “We expect those members to use their strike authorization to tell management that the nearly three years they have gone without a contract is unconscionable, short-sighted and destructive.”

A CBS representative said: “We gave them a fair and final offer nearly a year ago, which they urged their members to reject. This offer remains on the table.”

Among other things, the guild seeks a raise of 13 percent over 41/2 years for its members. It says the CBS offer included a two-tier wage package, one for TV and network radio workers and one for local radio, and the right to merge guild and non-guild shops.

Considering organized labor's push to force non-union employees into unions, I wonder if the non-guild shops will have a choice in that “merge” or if it will just be another “card check” bullying scam.

The AP said a vote to strike does not necessarily mean the writers will stop working, “but neither side seemed optimistic.”

With the drama and comedy writers striking, CBS' news division is likely being asked to generate more shows along the lines of “48 Hours Mystery,” which the network already uses to fill dead spaces on weekends. However, if those news writers strike and stop writing, then CBS will rely even more on reality shows just to have something on the air other than infomercials (this could be Ron Popeil's big comeback).

So, get ready for clip shows of piano-playing cats and little boys whacking their dads in the groin with wiffle bats.

Lets hope the reality writers keep writing, because otherwise we're stuck with executives dragging their kids out to perform magic tricks or tap dance to “Oh What A Feeling."

An interesting side effect to a strike could be CBS taking a risk and adopting a more non-traditional Internet-style lineup where they just throw anything at the wall to see if it sticks, potentially allowing the creation of a new style of show.

This could be an opportunity for others. A walk-out on Thursday would let the other networks win over faithful CBS viewers and give online news media the chance to gain a bigger foothold in the market.

If they do hit the picket line, though, a generation of TV viewers may encounter something on TV that they've never seen--a major network ending programming for the day with the "Star Spangled Banner" and a test pattern.

Already facing a bleak season without the full run of shows like "Bionic Woman," "Heroes," "Chuck" and "Lost," there is a bright side to a strike. Andy Rooney will finally be silent.

SEE Also: Jeff Poor's item.

Lynn contributes to NewsBusters and can be reached at tvisgoodforyou2 AT yahoo DOT com