No shooting of Bengali TV serials, as talks fail over COVID-19 medical insurance

On June 4, West Bengal Minister, Arup Biswas, had said that shooting of Bengali television serials will start from June 10 after putting in place all measures to prevent coronavirus infection

"In the present COVID-19 situation, how can we ask members to start shooting immediately if these things are not finalised?" said the Artists' Forum's spokesman. Photo: iStock

As talks between representatives of West Bengal Motion Pictures Artists’ Forum and producers of TV soaps and channel heads failed to resolve the issue of COVID-19 medical insurance for artists, shooting of Bengali TV serials did not start on Wednesday.

The talks on Tuesday night ended in a deadlock over the issue of Rs 25 lakh COVID-19 medical insurance for every artist to be effective from the first day of shooting. A spokesman of the forum said the channel owners and producers could not give assurance about giving a signed document of the medical insurance premium from the first day of shooting and hence “the forum is not in a position to advise its members to report at the shooting floor from tomorrow (Wednesday) itself.”

“We had asked when the insurance premium papers will be handed over to each artist, but the channel representatives and producers promised it will be done at the earliest. In the
present COVID-19 situation, how can we ask members to start shooting immediately if these things are not finalised? What will happen if an artist falls sick on the first day and is
diagnosed as corona positive?” the spokesman said.

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At the earlier meeting among the Artists’ Forum, representatives of production houses and channels on June 4 and 7, it was mutually agreed upon that channels will pay 50 percent of the insurance fee, producers will pay 40 percent and the rest 10 percent will be paid by the forum.

However, the forum alleged on Tuesday that no signed document was ready on the part of producers and channels in this regard.

West Bengal TV Producers said in a statement late Tuesday evening that despite total cooperation on the part of channels, producers and the federation of technicians, “the
forum intentionally raised objection on certain issues which made it difficult on our part to resume shoots from tomorrow (Wednesday).”

“In such situations, we have decided not to start shooting till the coronavirus situation remains in the country,” the statement said. Mahendra Soni, Co-Founder and Director of SV Entertainment, said, “We producers were well prepared to resume shooting keeping in mind all the safety protocols proposed and agreed in joint meetings between all the stakeholders, but suddenly Artists’ Forum asked us to fulfill something that was not in our control. I hope good sense prevails soon and we find an amicable way to resolve the situation.”

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There were other decisions like not having child artists and wearing masks on the floor except during shoots which were mutually agreed upon at the earlier meeting. The state government issued a notification on May 30, allowing shootings of serials, web series, and feature films from June 1 with the gathering of a maximum of 35 people.

However, the filming of reality shows is still not permitted. On June 4, West Bengal Minister, Arup Biswas, had said that shooting of Bengali television serials will start from June 10 after putting in place all measures to prevent coronavirus infection and without child artists.

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