Writer's Strike Explained by Daily Show Writers

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In case you've been living under a rock and haven't heard, the Writers Guild Association--the union of the folks who write most TV shows and movies--is on strike. What do these fiends want? Why do the insist on making us watch reruns of our favorite late-night talk shows, like The Daily Show or Letterman? And why--if the strike lasts for a while--will we also have to watch reruns of most of our favorite prime-time shows, like Heroes? And if the strike goes really long, we might have to watch--gasp!--foreign movies from England or Canada or somewhere?!!

The reason is simple. Right now, writers get paid when people watch what they've written. They get paid when a show airs. They get paid when a show re-runs (but less). They get paid when a DVD of the show is sold. They don't get paid much for any of these, considering how much money gets made off of these shows overall, but they do get something.

Except, of course, for online content. They get a pittance (0.3%) of downloads that you pay for. That is, if iTunes charges $1.99 for a download of a TV show, the writers--all the writers as a group, not each--get just over half a cent to split among them. Where does the rest go? Wouldn't you like to know?

And when they offer these shows online for free--say, on the network website--the writers get nothing. The TV companies get advertising money from the website, which turns out to be a sizeable chunk of change.

The writers think they ought to be paid for their work, and not just once--in much the same way J.K. Rowling gets paid every time a Harry Potter book is sold, and not just when she sells the book to a publisher.

But don't listen to me. Listen to the writers as they explain why they're upset that other people are making money off their work--then telling them that there's no money in online content.


Posted by Janet on 2007-12-03 22:13:10
When is the strike going to be over? There's no way I'm watching re-runs of old news. I rather watch re-runs of Will & Grace that air at the same time.


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