Thursday, December 27, 2007

Report Puts Another Digit On TV Writers Strike, But Main Issue Is Digital

Bear Stearns reports that the writers ask is negligible but that the producers are more concerned by the impact on future negotiations with the other parties - SAG, DGA, etc. "The potentially small financial impact suggests that studios (Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers) are more concerned about setting a precedent in new-media revenue sharing." And while there has been no movement for the two sides to get together again and restart negotiations, the viewer is left to watch leftovers. Obviously this programming has lower costs attached, but it most likely comes with less viewers also. And this programming may be a short term bandaid but will hurt more when the program pipeline is empty in the Fall.

There are two main issues: "Even with residuals from online streaming and paid downloads at the top of the writers' agenda, there's another issue. Bear Stearns notes that the studios (AMPTP) fiercely oppose. The WGA wants to expand its membership to include writers for reality series, hoping to gain bargaining power."

This strike is approaching its 8th week. I am fascinated to see what the late night talk shows will look like without writers. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert especially will be most interesting to watch; that they are required to come back but rely on their writers for provocative content - what they do the first night will demonstrate which side of the fence they stand. I'm hoping for a frank expression of the facts followed by boring interviews to fill the time and contractual obligation.

At the end of the day there are no winners, only losers.