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September 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The three studios that are due to produce and distribute the Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit, have responded to the decision by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to instruct their members not to work on the film, an action taken in support of Australia’s Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). In a statement, the studios said that to describe the production of The Hobbit as non-union is “inaccurate” and they further claimed that any collective bargaining with MEAA “would expose the production to liability and sanctions under New Zealand law.” Their position was buttressed by Penelope Borland of New Zealand’s Screen Production and Development Association, who wrote that the MEAA “has no legal status” in New Zealand. “They can’t enter into a contract, and the demands they are making are not legal.” John Barnett, CEO of New Zealand’s South Pacific Pictures, claimed in an interview with that the MEAA has been removed from the official register of incorporated societies for failing to file any reports in the last three years. “In the three years they have been here, they have not created one job and have not improved anyone’s working condition one bit,” Barnett said. But the country’s Council of Trade Unions said today indicated that it welcomed “the union assistance from Australia,” adding that “it was good to have international support for workers including performers.”