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Writers Guild of America goes on strike

5 November 2007

At midnight on Saturday the Writers Guild of AmericaAssociation of writers in motion picture, broadcast, cable and new media. went on strike, with what look like extremely well-organised plans to picket the studios. 90% of the Guild's 12,000 members had voted to strike in what has been a slow-brewing dispute. The Guild is demanding an increase in the fees writers receive from residuals and new technology - when their work is reproduced on DVDs, and a better share of revenue derived from content on the internet, mobile phones and other electronic devices. Studios and networks have refused to give way.

Writers Guild of America West says:

'With increased viewers and ad dollars on the Internet, we must secure our future. The Internet, cellular phones and other new distribution technology are simply channels for viewing the content we create. Again, our position is simple and fair: when we create valuable content for the Companies, we deserve to be paid... The only substantial economic issue for Internet reuse is the residual payment to directors, actors, and writers...

'We believe it is long past time for the talent that creates some of the most successful shows on television and some of the most popular and profitable feature films to be recognized and treated fairly. Again, our position is straightforward: when writers create programs of great value for the Companies, whether scripted or unscripted, live-action or animation, they must have the right to be represented by the WGA and covered by our MBA.'

The strike which has just started does represent a considerable risk for the Writers Guild. Today's studios are better able to withstand a strike than in 1988 because they're owned by media conglomerates with deep pockets.

For their part, network executives have been preparing for a strike for months and say they are ready. They've ordered an unusual number of pilots for next year and have lined up a plethora of reality TV shows, sports programs and shows culled from their libraries to fill the airwaves during a strike. So it looks like American tv viewers can anticipate an awful lot of re-runs on their screens as the Guild slugs it out with the studios and the networks.