The 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America went on strike on Monday over new media revenue and DVD royalties.
The irony is, this strike could be a Godsend for new media companies, as they grab a lot of viewers sick and tired of forced repeats and looking for something new to watch.
This is the first strike for twenty years, and is already affecting traditional television programming, with a number of chat and topical shows already being hit by the lack of new material.
There is also the threat to the big drama serials such as Lost and Heroes, with the latter already having the spin off show Heroes: Origins put indefinitely on hold partly because of the dispute (as well as poor ratings and reviews for the 2nd series).
The thing is, there will be many facets of the media which won’t be affected in the slightest by the strike, the main one being that same new media of the Internet which the strikers are demanding a piece of.
A Fractured Media Landscape
John Rash, author of the Rash Report, a newsletter about television ratings has stated:
“We are in totally uncharted territory right now, the strike in 1988 was B.C. — before cable explodes, before computers, before this vast fragmentation and fracturing of the media landscape.”
YouTube, MySpace TV, Joost, and the many small Internet TV channels which are already springing up like a wildfire in California will continue to broadcast and have brand new material added to them all the way through this strike.
The last time we had a Guild strike was 1988, a time before any of these sites were ever thought possible, and the Internet was solely the domain of the military, universities, and some ultra-geeky nerds.
YouTube Not On Strike
User generated content such as 99% of the videos on YouTube will carry on being produced, and be highly topical regardless of who is on strike and what issues there are being debated.
Furthermore, the writers and stars of Internet TV channels and shows aren’t generally affiliated to any such organisation or union and so the content will never dry up.
Jon Stewart, a guy who can usually see the bigger picture very accurately, even addressed the issue on his programme:
“So we won’t be here, but while we’re not here, you can check out all of our content on our new Web site, the DailyShow.com.”
“Every ‘Daily Show’ since I got here is on it, free, except for the advertising. So support our advertisers.”
The Writers Guild of America might have a solid case for extra compensation, but by striking they could end up cutting their nose off to spite their face, as new media grabs even more audience share from the traditional television companies as a result of their actions.
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