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James Hibberd



The WGA’s Poll Position

November 14, 2007 3:56 PM

As previously reported, the writers campaign has effectively rallied many average viewers to their cause. By eschewing equal-sized protests at every studio in favor of a few large rallies, each with a different theme and accompanied by big name talents, the Writers Guild of America has effectively fed the media machine. Online, writers and their supporters have utilized blogs and YouTube to further spread their message.

A Pepperdine University poll claims only 4% of the American public currently favors the studios, which is stunning. If you look at polling during major league sport strikes, the majority of fans tend to blame players during walkouts, not the owners. But another key figure in the Pepperdine poll is that 33% say they’re unsure who they support—meaning there’s plenty of opportunity for either side to make gains in the court of public opinion.

How much that court matters is another question. The networks and studios seem dug in, resigned to let writers picket over the holidays. They’re waiting for the patience of the rank-and-file to wear thin, waiting to possibly negotiate a precedent-setting contract with the Directors Guild of America, and waiting for the media’s jittery attention span move on to something shiny. They know the sight of Marc Cherry holding a picket sign is only going to draw a camera so many times.

As scripted shows go off the air and the strike drags on, one industry insider says they expect viewer surveys to start more closely resembling those sports strike polls.

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