Writers Go on Strike Against ABC-ITV America Quiz Show ‘The Chase’

Cynthia Littleton
·2-min read

Writers for the ABC quiz show “The Chase” have gone on strike against producer ITV America in a contract dispute.

The Writers Guild of America East, which represents the writers, asserts that ITV America has refused to abide by some of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement that covers the show. Nine writers in total walked off the show on Wednesday morning.

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In a statement, ITV America disputed the WGA’s characterization of events.

“After the WGAE approached ITV one week ago, we began good faith negotiations and proposed a package for the writers that includes generous, over scale pay increases and health benefits through the WGA. Despite that proposal, the WGAE is refusing to make a deal and insisting on terms that would economically cripple the show. We remain open to continuing discussions with the guild. ITV offers top-tier health benefits to all employees, whether union or non-union.”

The WGA has publicly targeted ITV America for the past few weeks over “The Chase” dispute. On Tuesday, the guild gave ITV America a deadline of early Wednesday to agree to the contract terms or face a work stoppage.

“We have alerted Writers Guild members that ITV America is refusing to honor the choice of writers at ‘The Chase’ to be represented by the union and to receive pension and health benefits, residuals and the other basic provisions of our industrywide MBA. Guild members will stand united in not crossing the picket line at ‘The Chase,'” said WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson.

The WGA East has tangled with ITV Studios and its various offshoots for the past few years amid the guild’s aggressive push to unionize nonfiction writers working for TV and digital platforms. The WGA East has successfully organized scribes working for Vice, Vox, CBSN, Hearst Magazines, Salon, Slate, HuffPost and others.

“The Chase” production offices are based on the West Coast but the WGA East took the lead in the contract discussions. Writing work on the show has largely been done remotely during the pandemic period.

The series debuted Jan. 7 and wrapped its nine-episode run on March 4. ABC has yet to formally announce a season two pickup but expectations are high that it will.

The quizzer features contestants facing off against “trivia titans” James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter — all three popular and wildly successful “Jeopardy” contestants — in rounds of rapid-fire questioning on a range of topics. It’s based on a popular British format.

The WGA East and WGA West have made inroads in representing a wide range of reality and nonfiction TV writers, such as writers for such cash-cow game shows as “Jeopardy,” “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “The Weakest Link.”

(Pictured: “The Chase”)

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