Any writer worth his salt should be standing in solidarity (symbolically, if not physically anyway) with the striking screenwriters and soap opera writers and sitcom writers in Los Angeles and New York. Unless you’re one of those weirdos who’s sworn off TV and claims not to even own a set (and if you are one of them, I salute you), you’re aware of the strike called by Writers Guild of America, the union home of Hollywood writers of the screen, both big and small. WGA’s demands are simple: they want a share of all profits from derived from broadcast of their creative work on any new media, including DVD’s and the Internet. Right now, word is that they’re paid about $.04 for every DVD sold, and nothing for anything broadcast on the Internet.
That episode of The Office you watched on NBC.com? The one that had 1-2 commercials (which the advertisers surely paid for) every five minutes? The writers got zilch.
Or that episode of 30 Rock (my personal favorite) from the same site that you downloaded the day after its original broadcast? The one periodically interrupted with more commercials, just like “real” TV? Again, writer Tina Fey and her crew didn’t get a dime for that download.
According to some news reports, The Office enjoys the highest download rates of any TV show, either on iTunes or on the networks’ Web sites. Fans have downloaded full-length episodes (or what the networks disingenuously refer to as “promotionals” as a way to get around paying the writers) at least 7 million times, and if you think about what advertisers must pay for each “eyeball,” and then multiply that by 7 million…uh, well, you can imagine why the writers are a wee bit peeved.
If you’re a writer, an artist, a singer, songwriter, musician, or any other creative type, please support this strike. If you’re a fan of TV and/or a show in particular, please support this strike. If you believe that writers and other creative types should be compensated for their work and its production in any medium, please support this strike.
Several strike captains have created a blog called United Hollywood where you can get more info, including videos and photos of the picket line (with several footage of high-profile actors who’ve come out to show their support). Also included are links to various op-eds and news articles related to the strike.
Lastly, they’ve also posted several videos on their YouTube site, with plenty of interviews with well-known writers about the strike and their participation in it.
Hopefully this will end soon, and we can all go back to enjoying new episodes of our favorite shows. In the meantime, I wish the writers well and throw my full support behind them. I hope you will too.