On the Writers’ Strike

The Writers Guild of America are currently on strike…in Britain, there are many  screenwriters so starved of work that the idea of going on strike actually seems comical.  And very few writers in the UK earn the kind of mega-bucks which their US counterparts can earn, so it’s hard to feel too sorry for them. 

There is a principle at stake however.  The CEOs of the corporations which own Hollywood are busy persuading their shareholders that there are vast fortunes to be made out of the internet, via various digital platforms which will allow us to watch films on our computer or mobile phone or I-Pod (George Walkley, the adorable and techno-literate head of marketing at Orbit, already watches movies on his I-Pod on his way to work, which is way ahead of my own technology capability.)  

It’s obvious really that before long DVD will vanish and we’ll all be downloading films directly on to our television sets; and most of us will be happy to pay for that privilege.

And yet those same CEOs argue, to writers and actors and other creatives who currently get a profit share from DVD sales and television screenings of their work, that it’s not possible to pay any revenue from digital broadcasts, because the market is so uncertain.  They want to pay the money! But they’re scared to, for fear their shareholders will become destitute and impoverished.  

And yet these same shareholders are being promised vast amounts of dosh arising out of the digital era…Hmm.   This is called talking from both sides of your mouth at the same time. 

Next year there’ll be an actors’ strike in America, about the same principle.

In showbusiness everything is negotiable; the only rule is that both sides should negotiate fairly and openly.  And I guess this is why the Writers Guild of America is being so intransigent; they fear they are being fibbed to. 

For my part, I’m hugely looking forward to the next stage in media technology - when I bin this cheapo computer and my small screen telly and walk around in a box surrounded by cinema screens. 

But let’s hope the transition to a digital future starts to proceed a little more smoothly and fairly.   

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