Writers Strike Pt. 2
So what's at stake in the strike by the unions representing television and motion picture writers? The writers have seen the writing on the wall, so to speak.
It's called the New Media, and it's nothing short of the future. Internet streaming, digital downloads, cell phone and iPod broadcasts are how we will watch programs, movies and videos in the years to come. Having a share in these media is critical.
As it stands, writers do not feel they share fairly in the revenue from these outlets. Most of it goes to the studios.
Here's the studios' most recent offer: While a writer may get say $20,000 for a year's use of a show repeat on broadcast TV, studios are offering only $250 for a year's use on the new media. You can see the disparity.
Studios are offering about .36 percent for downloaded movies and shows, about the same as for DVDs. Writers are seeking 2.5 percent.
Now you may be thinking, hey, $20,000 is a good price for a network repeat. Who's complaining?
Yes, I agree, that's good money. But let's face it, studios are hauling in buckets of money. So-called reality TV shows (Survivor, Bachelor, Idol and the lot) prey on using members of the public for voyeuristic thrills and these programs have become cash cows. They do not use guild writers at all.
Writers are saying they want to sit at the table as the New Media becomes our daily fare.
This is a deeply important demand. I'll never forget the first time I saw one of my feature articles posted on a client's Web site. I wasn't aware my feature was going to be used there. I am fortunate to work with great people serving nonprofits that have admirable goals. I was glad to see them using my work to further their programs, which often benefit the disadvantaged and the environment.
If on the other hand, I knew my clients had salaries in the millions, I would feel much differently about my work being used to fatten their wallets.
Of course, none of this directly affects my life as a writer. But, as a writer, I feel great solidarity with those who believe they have a right to be decision-makers and not work in virtual serfdom.