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Employment Law: Pay dispute means Simpsons could face the axe

The longest-running US comedy series The Simpsons could be facing the axe after its production company announced that its voice actors and staff would have to take pay cuts.

After a report which appeared on the Daily Beast website which claimed that the show's voice actors were struggling to renegotiate their contracts with 20th Century Fox, the company issued a statement explaining their position.

The statement read: "We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model.

"We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the voice cast that allows the Simpsons to go on entertaining audiences with original episodes for many years to come."

Although a well-loved show, The Simpsons ratings have dropped over the years, especially as other similar animated series have been created such as Family Guy.

Voice actors Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart) and Yeardley Smith (Lisa) currently earn around £5 million each per season.

The report claimed that Fox were asking the actors to take a 45% pay cut but the actors had proposed a 30% pay cut in return for some of the show's profits, which was rejected. Fox did not dispute these claims.

The show, currently in its 23rd season is broadcast in more than 100 countries, in 50 languages and earns billions of dollars through global syndication and DVD and merchandise sales.

But despite this, Fox will need to resolve the dispute before December so that the show's writers can work on a potential series finale.

News Corp, who own 20th Century Fox, have told investors they are looking at ways of making more money from The Simpsons and have had many meetings to "look at opportunities from A to Z".

Case Carey, the company's chief operating officer said: "Whether it's channel, digital, ourselves, third parties, it's a series unique in television, with a volume to it that is unprecedented."

Related links:
Read more on the story (The Guardian)
Read about changes to employment contracts (FindLaw)
Find local employment solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)