TALK BUT NO TALKS IN WRITERS' STRIKE

In a message addressed to the major networks and studios but distributed also to the press, the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Tuesday reiterated its claim that recent negotiations broke down over the writers' insistence upon jurisdiction over reality and animated shows, which currently come under the domain of the technicians' union, IATSE. Such demands, the AMPTP said, "have everything to do with increasing the union organizers' clout, but very little to do with the real needs of working writers." The AMPTP accused the WGA of engaging in an "alternating mix of personal attacks and picket line frivolity" that has done little to advance its cause. For their part WGA negotiators suggested that the jurisdictional demands were not paramount. "We have issues on the table that are negotiable, just like the AMPTP does," they said. "The difference is that we don't issue ultimatums." Meanwhile, leaders of the Directors Guild of America have sent members a message taking note of accounts in the trade press and elsewhere that the DGA may sign a separate contract with the AMPTP that would undercut the WGA. "This issue is not between the DGA and the WGA. To make that the fight only strengthens the other side," the message said. "But sharing a goal is not the same as sharing tactics and strategy. And our differing views of the best way to achieve our goals may lead us to act differently." The message did not indicate whether the directors plan to begin early negotiations with the studios and networks. (Daily Variety said that an announcement of a start date for such negotiations could come as early as today.)

GLOBE NODS ANNOUNCED, BUT WILL ANYONE SEE WINNERS?

The televised announcement of nominations for the Golden Globe Awards this morning may be the only thing TV viewers will see of the trophy contest if the writers' strike continues past Jan. 13 when the Globes telecast is scheduled to air on NBC. Even without writers contributing banter for the presenters, several top actors have indicated they will not cross a picket line if it is set up at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, the site of the awards ceremonies. WGA spokesman Greg Mitchell told today's (Thursday) Washington Post that it is "too early to tell" whether the guild will withdraw its pickets and grant a waiver allowing writers to work on the show.

NBC SCORES SOLID RATINGS WEDNESDAY WITH REALITY, NEWS PROGRAMS

NBC aired an entire night of reality and news programming Wednesday and did very well indeed. Two hours of Deal or No Deal averaged a solid 8.2 rating and a 13 share, putting it in first place in the 8:00 p.m. hour and second place in the 9:00 p.m. hour. At 10:00 p.m., it returned Dateline to its lineup with a one-hour feature about the now-ten-year-old McCaughey septuplets. That show also placed second with a 6.1/10, 22 percent stronger than last week's ratings for the drama Life, which previously held down that hour. (For the coming two weeks NBC is planning to air two-hour editions of Dateline on Wednesdays, then add another one- or two-hour edition on Sundays following the football season.) Meanwhile, it was reported Wednesday that the total amount that NBC will be returning to advertisers due to ratings shortfalls for the season will be $10 million. Advertising Age, which cited an unnamed person familiar with the situation, commented that the refund "is a sign that the network's fall season is not performing as well as executives at the General Electric-owned outlet might like."

MTV FREELANCERS HEAR MUSIC FROM FRONT OFFICE

MTV freelance employees, who this week staged a massive demonstration in front of corporate parent Viacom's New York headquarters over benefit cutbacks, have achieved at least a partial victory. The company agreed to keep the current medical/dental plans in place for the freelancers, many of whom have worked for the company for years and refer to themselves as "permalancers." In a memo to the employees, MTV also said, "We've implemented a process for evaluating freelance and temporary employee positions for possible conversion to staff positions. This process is currently underway and decisions will be communicated by January 31st, 2008." The company did not address other planned cutbacks affecting the freelancers, including loss of vacation and holiday pay, tuition reimbursement, commuter reimbursement, and life insurance.

CNBC TO PLACE CONTENT ON YAHOO! FINANCE

In what is likely to develop into a major expansion of its cable reach, CNBC said Wednesday that Yahoo! Finance will carry much of its content online, including video commentary and analysis, interviews, investing and stock-picking segments from such shows as Mad Money With Jim Cramer and Fast Money, plus international market news and news from CNBC.com. Content from CNBC Europe and CNBC Asia will also become available on Yahoo!'s 21 international financial news sites, the announcement said. "This agreement brings together two global market leaders to meet the growing demand for online business and financial information," Mark Hoffman, CNBC President, said in the statement.

Brian B.