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What does the national writer’s strike mean to you?

For those of you who get some sort of pleasure from visual media – whether it is television or film – you most likely know something about the strike currently going on in Hollywood and New York.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) – consisting of two unions labeled the West and the East – represent film, television and radio writers working in the United States.
Like many labor strikes that initially seem to have nothing to do with your daily life, you the audience will feel the effects of this strike.
Strikers are against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and more than 12,000 writers are affected by the strike, including Tina Fay, Seth MacFarlane and several recognizable faces from NBC’s “The Office.” A new contract is written up between the WGA and the AMPTP every three years, called a Minimum Basic Agreement.
The WGA contracts with AMPTP expired Oct. 31 and with the break down of all talks between both sides taking place the night before, a strike was called to begin Nov. 5 due to the writers feeling they were receiving an unfair deal on three main issues. The key issues of contention include DVD residuals, union jurisdiction for animation and reality programs and what is being called “new media,” like the Internet.
WGA members claim during periods of unemployment between projects common to their industry, residuals – or money made from subsequent airings or home video sales – are a necessary portion of the writer’s income. The WGA is asking to double the residual rate for DVD sales, resulting in an increase from approximately four cents to eight cents per DVD sold.
Regarding reality programming, the WGA is requesting contract language clarification so that a credit such as “Story Producer” and “Supervising Story Producer” is given to writers performing story contributions to a reality show. Animation writers are asking for clarification to include all animation in television and film without intruding on the jurisdiction of another union.
For “new media,” WGA members are asking for residuals for Internet downloads, IPTV, streaming, smart phone programming, straight-to-Internet content and other “on-demand” online distribution methods. There are currently no arrangements with the WGA concerning this type of content and two models of Internet distribution are on the table for negotiations. It has been said by some WGA members that this issue is the most important of all. It has even been dubbed “the One Issue” that matters.
So what does this mean for you exactly?
The effects of film will not be felt for several months as many scripts were fast tracked in order to begin filming but some productions, such as the Justice League comic book movie and Wolverine prequel, have been postponed until a script can be written.
That brings us to the now. Your television could quickly be bombarded by reality television and – GASP!!! – reruns should a solution to this strike not be found quickly. Shows currently airing new episodes are rapidly running out of pre-recorded material and nothing is being filmed currently with the writers gone and actors walking off the sets in support of the writer’s strike. It is rumored a solution is near and the two groups could announce a truce before Christmas. Should that not be the case, the strike could go on for months like it did in 1988 when the WGA picketed for five months and television lost 10 percent of its audience, which it still has not regained.

Matt Cook is a staff writer at the Ennis Daily News and can be reached at matt@ennisdailynews.com

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Posted by on Nov 29 2007. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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