Italians settling down to watch their favorite US sitcoms this week have been given what for some was an unwelcome surprise: the actors were speaking English.
A 15-day strike by the country's formidable army of dubbers means several shows have been broadcast in their original language with Italian subtitles.
Dubbers have a powerful role in Italy, where films and television programs are rarely shown in their original language
Dubbers are involved in a fractious dispute over renewal of their sector's national contract. On 12 June, unions issued a joint statement under the umbrella of the National Association of Actors and Dubbers, announcing industrial action and bemoaning a rise in both "underpaid work and 'black' work" in the industry.
It is not the first time the sector has shown its clout. In 1998, dubbers downed tools for two months until viewers inundated a television channel with complaints for having the nerve to broadcast a US soap opera in English – with subtitles. Dozens of Hollywood films had their Italian releases delayed because of the strike.
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