Sunday, January 13, 2008

ABC Studios Axes Writer-Producers

So it appears the writers strike has allowed producers to exercise the force majeure clause in their production agreements and cancel certain deals. It has been the producers who left the negotiation table so it seems fairly obvious that their reluctance to return was to allow them to get out of these agreements. And while revenues have been hit hard by the strike, costs have been reduced dramatically too so that the net profits may not be too bad for the producers. Unfortunately at a real cost to the economy and to innocent parties who work in the industry but not on either side of the disagreement.

Tonight's Golden Globes demonstrates that it is having a toll. It is now being called an "announcement" and billed as a news event, open to all media, and not an exclusive presentation on NBC. Ratings are bound to suffer too. And while losing the Globes will impact movie and TV promotion as well, the real hurt to the industry may come at the end of February should the strike not be settled in time for the Oscars telecast. I am not sure it can survive as an "announcement" and may be best delayed till all issues are resolved and the sides go back to work.

There appears to be so much bitterness between both sides that I hope that the DGA can create a deal that is satisfactory to the WGA. While they most likely won't be able to negotiate all the open issues, it would take some of the most contentious off the table. And now that the studios can "force majeure" their way out of their bad deals and have their clean slate, perhaps they will also be willing to come back to the table with the WGA once the DGA is settled.

And to everyone in new media; this is the opportunity to create compelling original content and push its value to the masses as an alternative to the low cost junk on TV being presented as entertainment on Broadcast TV. When the ad dollar starts to leave because the viewer has also left, the real impact will be felt.