Back on the Air

by Paul William Tenny is back on the air after going dark for a day to show this persons support for the Writers Guild of America. It was symbolic, but they deserve the support regardless of the actual results.

Here's why I did it.

Misconceptions about this strike are running all over the place due mostly to the large multinational corporations that own the studios and broadcast networks also owning many local TV stations and newspapers. It is in their best interests to pressure people from the top on down to put out positive spin that favors the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) which is exactly whats happening right now.
Most writers are rich, so this is about greed.
That's an exaggeration that can be made about just about any vocation in the world. In a free market, power and wealth are concentrated at the very top, that's just the world we live in. There are writers out there that are certainly multi-millionaires, and I'm sure they've earned every dime they have.

Those people number 10% or less out of the 12,000 or 13,000 members the guild has, the rest are working class. You've also got to consider that L.A. is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States.

Most writers make more than $100,000 per year.
I don't know what the specific numbers are and I doubt anyone else does either. Earning $100,000 per year would place you in the top 5% of all Americans according to the 2005 census which makes it far more likely that only 5% of the union earns that kind of money.

That's assuming writers work every single year, which they don't. Some go years without a job while others work all the time, it differs, and yet I'm told that up to 70% of the membership is unemployed at any given time. Even if a person hand a good year and did make $100,000, if they don't sell another script for a couple of years, that number doesn't look so hot anymore.

I don't watch television and I hope the union gets busted.
Hatred of unions has been coming mostly from anti-union conservatives that are reading about strike news on conservative rags such as the Drudge Report. Statistically speaking most of them are liars because we know how many people watch TV - it's how they figure out how much to sell commercial time for.

In the year 2000 there were about 105 million households in the United States, and we know there are about 112 million this year that have television sets. It may not be 100%, but it's reasonable to say that however many total households there are this year, damn near every one of them has at least one television - it doesn't take a genius to see the truth. Everybody watches TV at some point, so this strike affects everyone.

The movie studios were prepared for this.
Only because of the physical demands of movie production, not because they were smarter, faster, or better prepared for this than television productions were. Movies take a year or more from page to screen so everything they are shooting today and putting into theaters through 2008 was in the pipe already.

What this strike will hurt is 2009 for movies, but only if it lasts for more than a few months. The longer it goes, the more of a gap there will be between the movies that are almost ready but not quite ready, and what gets written or bought after the strike ends.

Think of it this way, movies that would be having their scripts worked on right now would be showing up in theaters perhaps in early 2009 or late '08 - but because the strike delayed them, they won't come out for 2009 plus however many months the strike lasts. That gap will hurt them eventually, they just won't admit it to the trade papers (that their parent corporations own.)

It's simple math, though. The longer writers can't work on feature scripts, the larger than gap will be and the more the studios will be hurt financially, even after the strike has long since ended, and it will be their own fault for not bargaining right now.

Studio chiefs have said as much already only they had reality backwards: whatever it would cost them to give the writers in residual increases right now is a fraction of the billions they will lose by not having any television, and eventually any films to sell.

This is not about money to them and it never has been, it's about pushing people around just because they can. The Time Warner and Viacom CEOs are making $15-40 million per year, and the way things have been going over the past decade, they probably stand to make more money by failing and resigning in five years then they do by succeeding.

I think the Citibank CEO who is leaving soon (or just left) is in a position to walk away with $40-80 million as a thanks for leading Citibank to some of its worst declines ever.

And people have the gall to accuse writers of being rich and greedy? There are writers out there that have made far more money for these studios and their parent companies than these CEOs have, and there is no way they are pulling in 1/8th the money - and those are probably the top 1%'ers, not the 90% rest that are making $30-50k a year in a city where tiny crappy homes start at $300k.

I'm sure there's more, but I've got a backlog of things to post so I'll end it right here. Anyone who knows more about this than I do, I invite you to share what you've got in the comments.
in Labor, Site


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