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Writers Guild Strike News

It's the Internet--Stupid

November 5, 2007, Venice, CA. Why is VenicePaper covering the strike other than a shameless "hit" grab?

At the core of this baby is writers/artists’ protection on the Internet. Free music downloads may be a thing of the past, but almost every blog sports an ugly picture for writers/content producers. It’s simply seen as okay on the net to take the work of others and place it on a site without financial compensation. That’s a move akin to slipping a hand into someone else’s wallet.

WGA jurisdiction and fair compensation for WGA writers with work on the web, could, for a variety of reasons begin to shift this.

So, last night we checked in with a local WGA member who is on the guild’s Community Relations Committee for some non-press release lowdown. The results of which follow:

Although Nikki Finke of www.deadlinehollywood.com reported late last night that the Producers had finally agreed to recognize WGA jurisdiction over membership’s work on the web, [STORY UPDATE 11_5_07 10:30AM. A press release issued by the guild said that the producers offered "No jurisdiction for most of new media writing."] the Producers had previously refused any discussion of financial remuneration on it, even by formula, claiming the Web was the great financial unknown.

This is lame—beyond idiocy. Either the Producers are lying or incompetent or never use Google or can’t put a business forecast together.

Even our lowly writer knows: “The Internet is going to be the delivery source of the future... Television is a dinosaur.”

The writer pointed out to us that the Networks are already making income from advertiser-supported, downloadable-episodes, online. 30 Rock, for example. But writers don’t get any piece of that action even though they wrote the script on which the show is played out.

“We don’t want a piece of [the Producers’] profit,” the writer emphasized, “We want a payment every time they use our work.”

Couple of other notes:

The writer expressed their disagreements with local newspaper coverage:

“The newspapers are all saying that we want to ‘double the DVD rate’ as if the DVD rate is good. But the DVD rate is: 3/10s of one cent on a dollar. We want to change that to 6/10s of one cent on a dollar.”

The writer pointed out that DVDs cost less than $1 to manufacture and sell for between $11 – $22.

The writer framed the idea that the Producers (at the time we talked at least) were refusing to extend benefits (Health etc) to writers under New Media as the Wal Mart-ization of workers, growing nationally as ownership grows more concentrated. As it is across industries included the Entertainment business in which all three networks are all owned by studios.

Lastly, the writer pointed out the support of some major showrunners for the strike. (Writers who also hold producer responsibilities, who could if they so desired remain working.) Instead, the heads of such programs as Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and The Office. (The whole cast of the Office are also respecting the strike call, as those actors are writer-actor hyphenates.) (And by the way, we just double checked our spelling of Grey’s Anatomy on find the first GA insertion on Google, paid placement by the network, hawking online downloads of Episodes.)

Nikki Finke, Killer Coverage
According to writer Nikki Finke, who has done extraordinary, real-time blogging on the negotiations, strike negotiations broke off last night between 9 pm and 10 pm amidst recriminations by both sides that it was the other side’s fault. (Hey, it’s an industry where everyone owns success and no one will cop to backing failure.)

(GO TO www.deadlinehollywood.com to catch up.)

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