By Bill Molina
By Bill Molina
On Feb. 12, the writer’s strike came to a much anticipated close with the overwhelming majority of writers voting to go back to work after 100 days.
Some of you who are sick of watching reruns may be wondering why the strike began in the first place. If you care, then please let me give you a quick primer.
When the VHS medium came out for mass distribution, the Writers Guild of America agreed to ask for less of the profits by cutting their share by 80 percent to help with home market sales until the market became a solid base for future production.
Even after DVD had become commonplace worldwide the writers still did not receive the first agreed upon price of 2.5 percent in residuals.
Now, since the ability of networks to sell their shows online through services like iTunes or Amazon, a new kind of market has emerged.
This new digital age of television found the writers not getting paid for hit shows that were being purchased for viewing, an obvious slight against them and the hard work they put in creating them.
When you stop to consider the millions of dollars in revenue these shows make, the amount of jobs they provide, the worldwide support fans give, and lastly the fact that these ideas are written by mostly American writers, you may get a clearer idea of just how important a good writer is to your favorite show.
Jack Kyser, Chief Economist for Los Angeles County, said the estimated price of the strike is at just over $3.2 billion. Of that cost, $1.3 billion dollars were said to be lost because consumers simply did not spend money as much as before.
With the country in recession, does spending less money really seem all that bad? Especially when you consider that Los Angeles generates over $1 billion every day.
One aspect of the new contract is that the networks agreed to pay for the internet profits they are receiving, the biggest issue is that they can legally stream shows for a 17 – 24 day “promotional period” after the show in question airs. Since this is when the bulk of the online viewing is done, the writers still feel somewhat cheated.
Also, writers hired to create original web content would now be covered by the new union contract. However, the fault in this deal is that the networks retain the ability to hire non-union freelancers on a much lower budget.
So while our favorite shows are returning to us, the writers are still fighting for all the rights they feel they deserve. Just cause the strike is over, it doesn’t mean that everything is ice cream and rainbows for the writers.
With several writers all over the industry getting fired, many television programs are greatly delayed. Some shows such as 24 have not yet announced when they will return to air new episodes, if they come back at all that is.
“The Office” is returning to finish its fourth season on April 10. “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and “The Daily Show” have stopped improvising their shows live on air and have already returned to their proper comedic form. April 28 marks the return of “House MD.”
“Metalocalpyse” returns to complete season two on May 18. “Scrubs” will return Oct. 10, although the network claims it may not even air the finale or release it on DVD. “Heroes” season three premiere sometime in the fall.
Shows like “Rescue Me” hasn’t had its new season written so time will tell when its saved.
“Entourage” may return in style as soon as this fall.
“Spongebob Squarepants” had several of its writers sent to the surface so its script is swimming slowly. “Cavemen” had so few viewers that no one noticed when it was refrozen for future viewers to continue not watching at all.