Friday, November 30, 2007

New WGA Strike News

The WGA strike marches on with few new developments. According to news reports, they did manage to work something out with ABC as to contracts for the WGA-affiliated news writers. However, CBS networks refused to chat further concerning their news writers.

The networks offered some sort of conciliatory package which was refused because it only included streaming Internet media and did not include that disseminated through a download model. One analyst said it would pass along about 3% of the revenues to writers, while the production companies' income would go up around 10% in the same time.

I am reminded of a line Ed Asner's character said in the now-canceled Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which was something along the lines of, "Content is one thing, but in television, distribution is still King."

You have to understand that, for the networks to offer so many products for download and streaming viewing, they have to pay a pretty good penny for bandwidth. The catch-22 here is that, without writers, there is no content for them to disseminate! A more even distribution of the wealth seems to be in everyone's interest... of course, that's common sense and ethics talking - two things which have no place in business and are literally laughable in Hollow-wood.

I still do not understand why it is that the WGA has not realized the real crux of the matter here:

Writers no longer need production companies.

Now, this isn't completely true - I mean, I certainly don't have the money to make my own series or film, but I do have (barely) enough money to change the format and release it on my own online. I mean, the whole thing really does come down to the age-old argument of content vs. distribution, and no matter how you slice it, if there is no content, there is nothing to distribute.

Conan O'Brien has joined the ranks of David Letterman, paying his staff out of his own pocket so they don't go without for the holidays, while Carson Daly has resumed filming of his show. Daly is one of the few talk show hosts who is not also a writer and thus not a member of the WGA. Daly said he felt suspending his program for a month was the most support he could show for his four WGA-affiliated staffers, noting he did not want the rest of his staff to lose their jobs.

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