Studios Making a Big Mistake In Writers' Strike Negotiating Tactics

Posted on December 12, 2007

The AMPTP (Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers) walked out on the negotiations with the WGA (Writers' Guild) last Friday after issuing a remarkably petulant ultimatum: that the writers pull off the table their demand for jurisdiction over reality television and animation. The WGA refused to negotiate against itself but said it would be happy to keep talking. The AMPTP walked out in a huff.

The PR firm hired by the AMPTP has really misjudged this strike situation. Never in the history of Hollywood has there been such support for the writers who create everyone's favorite scripted programs: from Heroes to Lost to Gray's Anatomy, fans now know who creates those shows because they watch them on podcasts. Fans are participating in the strike by marching in picket lines, mailing in pencils to the studios as a protest and by visiting the very funny new websites created by the bored, out of work writers of the David Letterman Show.

The AMPTP is already starting to feel the pinch of the strike, major networks are having to compensate advertisers with additional hours of ads or -- in NBC's case -- having to give back actual cash because the network has essentially run out of episodes of popular scripted programming. The WGA leadership isn't going to cave, and neither is the rank and file writers who know that if they don't get a contract in which they are paid residuals for new media, that they won't be paid anything at all when most programming goes online in the future. It's time for the AMPTP to come back to the table and realize that times have changed. Writers must be paid for new media.