Thursday, February 07, 2008

 

The Writer's Strike is Over (maybe): But First a History

So it's the first week of February and TV is filled with the riches of sweeps month. No wait a minute, there's almost nothing on because this is a strike year. Figuring out a strike year is a lot more complicated than figure out if it is a leap year, which this is also. You take the number of broadcast networks x 8 + number of cable channels (averaged between Comcast and Time Warner cable) x 3 - number of movie studios with tours open to the public and then add that to the year TV was invented which was 1931. By this model the next strike will be in 2031.

Today it was announced that the strike is probably over. The WGA reached a deal with the producers but it still has to be ratified by its members. That vote is on Saturday. This is the third time the Writer's Guild of America has gone on strike. The first one in 1960 lasted 146 days. The one in 1988 lasted 153 days. The current strike is only in its 93rd day. The common thread in all these strikes is new media.

In the 50's movie studios started selling movies to television stations. They kept all the profits and paid no residuals to the writers. "It's a new an unproven format. We need time to figure out how it will work." In the mean time they took all the profits for themselves. As we know TV became a huge industry.

In the 70's and 80's the home video market started up. Studios began selling video tapes and laser disks directly to consumers and stiffing the writers. "It's a new an unproven format. We need time to figure out how it will work." Now the DVD market is a huge profit center for production studios. The WGA took a much smaller residual percentage of the video market than they wanted. They feel suckered by the deal they got.

Now the studios are at it again. When you buy a TV show or movie on iTunes the writers get nada. When you watch LOST online presented by Red Lobster, the writers do not get a cut of that tasty seafood advertising. With the raw deal they feel they got in 1988, they aren't going to cave this time. HD-DVD and/or BlueRay will be the last physical format. The future will be all about online purchase and streaming. They aren't going to loose out on that.

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