Editorial: The Industry You Kill Could Be Your Own

Apr 20, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Look before you leap. Indications are that the 100-day writers strike did, in fact, drive some viewers away from TV. Thus this plea to the Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA and the media companies that control the TV industry: Don’t let a strike happen, or you’ll all be sorry.
Havas media-buying shop MPG found that the majority of original programming has failed to return to its pre-strike levels in key age groups. While there are some factors such as scheduling changes that have contributed to that result, another, more
pernicious factor almost certainly was at work: Viewers stopped caring about shows.
The slow downward slide of broadcast network ratings indicate that already the culture is moving away from the medium. The industry accelerates that slide when it breaks its covenant to offer viewers their favorite shows as promised.
The Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers expires in June, and with that expiration comes the risk of a new labor action in Hollywood that could halt production of some shows.
Query for Alan Rosenberg, president of the 120,000-member actors union, and AMPTP boss Nick Counter: Are you ready to damage the long-term viability of the industry that supports both your organizations in exchange for marginal gains?
A cost-benefit analysis is in order. The actors reportedly want increased payment for distribution of shows on the Web and a bigger slice of DVD sales. They also want actors to receive a cut of product-placement fees. Really, how much more can a SAG divided by factions of “have” and “have-not” actors expect to wrench from an AMPTP that was battle-hardened in the Writers Guild of America strike?
The WGA, in its strike, secured improvements in some of those areas. However, it’s likely that, during the life of the writers’ new contract, they won’t recoup even the wages they lost during their walkout. And that doesn’t begin to account for the estimated $2.5 billion the strike cost the industry.
A SAG strike would carry the extra cost of alienating audiences by another increment. But Mr. Rosenberg has been quoted as saying he wants to make gains beyond those won by the WGA. Let’s hope this is simply saber-rattling by a committed unionist who knows the best cards in his deck are rhetorical.


  1. The Industry began killing itself a Decade ago, when they began replacing Drama and Comedy Shows with “Reality”, Game and News Shows. If that wasn’t bad enough they decided to increase the amount of Commercials aired on each show. 10 Years ago one would see about 10 minutes of Commercials for each Hour of Programming. Now there can be as much as 26 minutes of Commercials show per hour! The Networks are feeling the effects of this deadly dou. and I feel with this Recession that’s upon us the Cable and Satellite TV Business is about to get Slammed!

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