Posted by: Staff | 05.02.2008

The Writer’s Strike

SARA MARSH ’09

Television viewers across the country were affected by a three-month writer’s strike. Television programs were postponed while 12,000 writers protested. The Writer’s Guild of America initiated the strike on November 5 of last year and it lasted until February 12 of this year. The strike was led in opposition to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Every three years the Writers Guild of America negotiates a new contract called the Minimum Basic Agreement, which collaborates with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, where many writers are employed. WGA members argued that a writer’s residuals, or profits made from re-runs or purchases of the shows, are an essential part of a writer’s income that is normally relied upon during periods of unemployment common in the writing industry The WGA demanded a doubling of the residual rate for DVD sales, which would raise .03% per DVD sold. One of the other critical issues addressed was “residuals for new media”, or compensation for Internet downloads, and other online distribution methods, along with video on demand on cable and satellite television. Writers felt as if they were being cheated because they weren’t getting the profits and notations wanted. All of their hard work was not getting the credit it deserved, when they are largely responsible for creating each show.

The strike lasted 100 days before coming to any conclusions. Writers voted on February 12th on whether to lift the restraining order and the majority voted to end the strike. The leaders of the Writers Guild of America have authorized a new three-year deal pertaining to the writers’ desires, mostly increasing their payments and recognition. Movies, television shows, and plays will more publicly recognize writers’ names and credit them for their work. The public will be more informed on who they are and their contributions to the productions.  

The last major writer’s strike was in 1988, which lasted much longer than the most recent strike. The biggest concerns within the contract were the reduced payments for hour-long shows, as well as reruns broadcasted in foreign countries. The strike lasted 21 weeks and six days, and over 9,000 movie and television writers went on strike. With the advancement of technology the most recent strike was more complex because there are many new forms of media and ways to download illegally. For example many used the Internet to watch movies that had just been released in theaters for free, rather then paying money to go see the film in theaters.

New episodes of television shows are starting now! Check your local listings for channels and times!  


New shows airing:
• Cashmere Mafia
• American Idol
• America’s Next Top Model
• Big Brother: till death do you part
• MTV reality shows
• Survivor: Micronesia
• LOST
• Lipstick Jungle
• The Biggest Loser

Popular shows returning:
• Desperate Housewives Heroes
• House
• Grey’s Anatomy
• The Office
• Private Practice
• Brothers & Sisters
• Reaper
• Law and Order: SVU
• Gossip Girls
• One Tree Hill

Sources cited:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Writers_Guild_of_America_strike#Response
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/27/eveningnews/main3756612.shtml

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