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Roundup: Hollywood Writers Still on Strike (5th Week!)

I guess the Hollywood writers are still unable to reach an agreement with the motion picture and television industry, I had no idea until I read about it online yesterday (or today, I forget which). I’m not entirely sure what the whole hub-bub is but based on the article I read [3], it sounds like they are still really really far off from reaching an agreement.

What’s interesting was that a few weeks ago I was listening to NPR when a writer was being interviewed. He was a prominent writer on some show and he said that being on strike isn’t particularly difficult for writers because they’re often without work. Unless you’re hired on a long running show, you have stretches where you aren’t able to draw a paycheck and so you’ve grown accustomed (he didn’t say that writers liked it, of course!) to not having work and constantly pitching yourself. The stakes for the new media agreements are so high that I think the writers will be able to hold out longer than the studios. At some point shows can’t show re-runs anymore and the studios will start taking a hit to their bank accounts as viewership drops.

Last week, the studios had proposed a flat $250 payment for a year’s use of an hourlong TV show on the Web. That contrasts with the $20,000-plus residual that writers now earn for a single network rerun of a TV episode.

Friday night, the guild said producers were holding to their $250 offer and demanding that writers give up on proposals including unionization of animation and reality and, “most crucially, any proposal that uses distributor’s gross as a basis for residuals.”

Who is in the wrong? Writers who are looking into the future and seeing a world where internet is more pervasive and powerful, commanding higher commercial revenues than they are now, or the studios who see that today the internet is not commanding the same advertising revenues as television. On the internet (unlike television), it’s not about number of viewers, it’s about getting someone to do something.