Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Strike Two!

In a phone call with a client last night, I was asked what I thought about the strike started by the Writers Guild of America that is now affecting the television industry.

According to the WGA website, there are big issues to be resolved, including:

  • Jurisdiction for most of new media writing.

  • Residuals for Internet downloads of television shows.

  • Residuals for streaming video of theatrical product.

Right now, anytime a consumer views a TV show on the website of a network or channel, no fees are given to writers of the show. Quite often, there are commercials that appear before any video clip, so the television networks are making money when each show is viewed. (Then the networks pay the television production companies - represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, who then pay all cast and crew members.)

So, this boils down to a licensing question: Do the writers (and their unions) agree to license their work (scripts in the form of a television show) on new forms of media? The strike says that they do if they are paid for it. Back in 1988, the television writers' strike cost the industry nearly $500 million in advertising revenue. How bad will the carnage (for this industry) be this time?

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