Friday, November 2, 2007

Enjoy Your Favorite Shows While They Last!

All of the shows that we love to watch could be over around the holidays if the Writer's Guild of America decides to follow through with the strike that they have said is a possibility on November 1st. The writer's contracts run out on October 31st and the WGA, along with all of its member's support, has announced that they might decide to strike after the contracts end. Many shows, including NBC's Heroes have been rushing to film as many future episodes as possible before November 1st. Another result of the strike is that stations will need to find fillers for all of the primetime spots. It is suggested that they would probably begin to air more sports, reality shows, and reruns.
There are many reasons for the strike, but the general idea is that the writer's are not being given enough credit and payback for their work. Shows do not compensate writer's for things like episodes viewed on the web and dvd/itunes sales. Also, the issue of reality shows being unionized has been raised. One of the biggest complicators is how traditional tv is going to combat with new-media, like webcasts and youtube.
It is suggested that if the writer's go through with this strike, the damage could be dramatically worse than the strike in 1988, which cost the industry an estimated $500 million. In the writers defense, I do have to say that because they have such a huge network of people who are influenced by them, this strike will almost surely result in change. Best of luck to them, and all my hopes that they sort out this issue sooner than later!


Maren said...

This is a very interesting story to me. When I've been reading the news online, the most common reference to the possible strike also mentions late-night comedy, including Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Stephen Colbert. The spin the news media is putting on this story is very interesting to me. I guess often we take for granted that these comedians must come up with all or most of their own material, whereas in sitcoms or dramas the viewer inherently assumes that there are many writers behind the scene. In a way, I believe that by emphasizing the effect that this Writers' Guild strike may have on comedians, the news media is drawing attention to the importance and omnipresence of writers everywhere.

GabbiR. said...

Being a writer myself, I can understand where the writers are coming from. I found this story incredibly fascinating because it once again is a nonviolent protest but not in the traditional sense. The tactic is likely going to be very effective because the writers are hitting the companies where it hurts--their income. I cheer on the writers for proving that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, but shudder at the possibility of there being more reality shows on TV.

Mariana Newman said...

As the writers' strike continues into Week 2, it's an interesting exercise to analyze some of the tactics of the Writers Guild of America and to make some suggestions. (I wish this was my consultancy organization, now!)
I've been following the story with the Los Angeles Times' excellent blog on the strike.
In terms of tactics, I think the WGA has done a very good job of stating their functional objectives and rallying support. There are a lot of voices (celebrity voices certainly help!) out there stating their support for the striking writers. A recent poll shows that 63% of Americans are inclined to side with writers in the dispute. Only 4% favored the studios. 33% were still unsure. The WGA could do a better job of getting their goals out there and making it clear to that unsure portion of the public what the strike is about. Now that the WGA knows the majority of America is on their side, what can they do with this information? How can they turn it into a sanction? I see a boycott of downloading or watching online TV shows as well as a boycott of the reality and other replacement programming the networks put on the air once the TV episodes run out as key sanctions.

Graham said...

Now that the writer's strike has been going on for quite some time now, it seems some progress has been made. The Writers Guild of America has reported that there have been "substantive discussions of the issues important to writers" with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers yesterday for the first time. Though the writers are still awaiting response from their most recent proposal which includes the central issue of internet-based-viewing revenues. It has been a very effective campaign so far in successfully taking down popular late night shows Letterman, Conan O' Brian, and Leno more recently. I think I mentioned in class that this is an issue that really does have a trickle-down effect into the whole industry. Many actors and actresses are struggling as their careers depend on parts in these popular shows. As for the average TV consumer (me!), I am outraged that there has not been progress made sooner! As more and more viewers begin to turn off their televisions when they realize that reruns are all they can see, I anticipate a settlement within the next two weeks.