November 2, 2007 / 3:40 PM / 11 years ago

"Daily Show" and "Colbert" vulnerable to strike

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Popular comedy shows “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” are vulnerable to a Hollywood writers’ strike since they require fresh writing about current events, Viacom Inc said on Friday.

Comedian Jon Stewart talks to a packed crowd at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles November 17, 2006. REUTERS/Max Morse

Both shows air on Viacom’s Comedy Central cable television channel and would likely be replaced by reruns for a period if a strike happened. But the company does not expect much of its other television programming to be affected.

“Probably the couple of shows that ... over the next few months are impacted that we have to look at are ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ and Stephen Colbert, because of their topical nature,” Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman told analysts on a conference call to discuss financial results.

“If there should be a strike, we will evaluate what we do in those time slots,” he said. “As we have done before ... we will have reruns for a little while and then we will see what we do with the format.”

Negotiators representing Hollywood screenwriters have recommended the union go on strike for the first time in two decades after failing to renew their contract with producers, a move that could fill U.S. television screens with reruns and reality shows.

The Writers Guild of America was due to announce plans on Friday following a meeting of the executive boards of the union’s branches. They are demanding a bigger cut of DVD and Internet revenues and reports suggest they could form picket lines as early as Monday.

Viacom, parent of the MTV Networks cable channels and the Paramount movie studios, said it has been preparing for a strike and overall sees little or no impact from a walkout to its programming or movie pipeline.

“We feel we are very well positioned on an overall basis, starting with the studio,” Dauman said. “We have a good pipeline of movies that are already produced or are in production which will not be affected.”

CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves had also said on Thursday that the network had new programming prepared for substitution if contract talks failed. CBS and Viacom are both controlled by 84-year-old media mogul Sumner Redstone.

Viacom said on Friday its quarterly profit surged 80 percent and movie revenue grew 57 percent, helped by blockbuster ticket sales for its alien robots movie “Transformers.”

Reporting by Michele Gershberg, editing by Gerald E. McCormick

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