14 November 2007


So, I'm finally getting around to commenting about the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) strike. It's now day 10, and I hope more progress is being made behind the scenes that what I'm hearing, but I doubt it.

First, I feel eminently qualified to comment on the matter. Not because I have any real knowledge of the subject or anything, but just because I love me some TV. I am a huge consumer of their product and it pains me that soon there will be nothing but news, reruns, and crappy reality shows available for my viewing pleasure. (Thank God for Project Runway. And there is my guilty pleasure of America's Next Top Model...although the reality shows (especially that one) actually screwed over the writers early on.

Anyway, my position on the strike can be summarized as follows: Go writers. It seems undeniably clear that the studios are trying to completely cheat the writers out of fair revenue from the new media formats...much the same way they did with video rights back in the day. This video offers up the clearest description of the issues that I've found, all in a concise 4 minute package:

It's also interesting that the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or the Darth Vader of this piece) is using the lame argument that the full episodes of shows that are available online are simply "promotional" materials. This is complete bullshit. Aside from the fact that they sell ads for these online versions, the web has clearly become a legitimate outlet for television shows. I know lots of people who watch certain shows exclusively online. Whether it's because all their watching/recording slots for a particular time are filled with higher priority shows, because their Tivo or DVR malfunctioned, or simply because they're looking for a way to kill some time at work is immaterial...shows are being watched and writers are not being paid. Same deal with iTunes, people are paying for those shows. It's no different that buying a DVD (another market in which the writers make almost nothing). The irony is that the people who watch shows on the net or buy them from iTunes are exactly the people that the networks want watching their shows...young, early adopters with free time and disposable income.

The actors/writers from The Office (many of the people on that show wear both hats) make some excellent points here:

There are also countless writers blogging about their strike experiences. I've been enjoying this one (and not just because he uses the same blogger template as me...). You can also check out the WGA's site or the unofficial United Hollywood one, where you can sign a petition.

As I've said, I have no vested interest in the strike, other than that of any other average TV viewer. I can't imagine being on strike. Basically, you quit your job and take on a new job that offers no pay, is physically demanding, and can be totally demoralizing as the situation wears on. That has got to be tough. So, I offer my moral support. Good luck to you.

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