Three months into the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) strike, there continues to be no end in sight. In the meantime the Golden Globes were effectively “cancelled,” the television networks continue to air reruns, reality shows have surged, the TV and film industries have incurred hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage and thousands of industry workers have been put out of work.
However, while the costs associated with the strike have been weighty, so too are the disputed issues of compensating writers for profits garnered from DVD sales and Internet distribution. Because the future of the entertainment industry appears to be associated with these forms of media, The Miami Student editorial board supports the WGA’s efforts to negotiate more just contractual arrangements that give fair compensation to writers for the success of their work.
Currently, the movie industry earns far greater profits from DVD sales than from the box office. The writers of these films, however, receive relatively modest residuals from the sale of DVDs. Already underpaid by industry standards, writers deserve fair compensation for this highly profitable way in which their work is distributed.
Perhaps the most central issue of the strike is the negotiation of a compensation arrangement for Internet content, something that the WGA does not currently have. While the full profit potential of Internet content has not been realized, there appears to be a general consensus that it will figure centrally in the future of the entertainment industry. It is important that the WGA reaches an agreement on this issue in the near future, rather than waiting until the Internet constitutes an even more prominent aspect of the industry’s business and the negotiating process for the writers becomes even more difficult.
While these two issues are important ones for the writers to get straightened out, it is disheartening to see the negative consequences that the ongoing strike has had on many of the industry’s stagehands, technicians and production workers. Nonetheless, much of the burden for resolving the strike now rests with the studios, production companies and distribution companies. Their claims that the striking writers are “ruining TV” are ridiculous-the networks will recover.
Just as the companies deserve to reap the profits from their product, the writers have a right to be fairly compensated for their work. New media residuals are a critical facet of this compensation, and the WGA should see that it secures appropriate residuals while it has negotiating leverage.