UPDATE: FCC Media Consolidation - Act Now!

From Free Press:

The Federal Communications Commission approved new rules that
will unleash a flood of media consolidation across America. The
new rules will further consolidate local media markets -- taking
away independent voices in cities already woefully short on
local news and investigative journalism.

Congress has the power to throw out these rules -- and if
100,000 people demand it, they'll have to listen. Click on the
link below to sign the open letter to Congress urging them to
stop the FCC and stand with the public interest.



ChuckT said...

Not only that. Here's a little more fuel for your fires:

"An interesting detail from the Wall Street Journal's strike coverage: network execs are looking at off-shoring more TV production in order to tap foreign, non-union writers to script shows. Media conglomerates like Viacom, Time Warner and NBC U have substantial cable operations abroad, and the networks import and export reality and game show formats like Endemol's "Big Brother" and "Fear Factor" all over the world.

The diversification has major advantages: Because it licenses nearly all of its primetime dramas from Mexico's Grupo Televisa, Spanish-language broadcaster Univision has been unaffected by the writer's strike. It also probably has lower writers' costs."
from alleyinsider.com

Best of luck in the new year. The writers are gonna need it. LoL.

Captain Obvious said...

Yes we're sooo afraid of people with names like "Khaptek Bhavdi" revolutionizing the American media.

MrKlaatu said...

And George Bush has already vowed to veto any legislation that overturns the FCC decision.

ChuckT said...

Captain Obvious, I suggest you pick up a book or a newspaper and read how much of America's industries (particularly tech, finance and food) are being outsourced to other countries. You might want to talk to people in the legal, finance, automotive industries darling. What exactly do you think has been going ON in this country for the past 20 years?

People in other parts of the world have been consuming American media just as much as Americans have. They know how we think and what we like and don't like. They understand US far better than we understand THEM.

If you you choose to stick your head in the sand when the storm is bearing down at the horizon, you deserve what is about to happen.

cgeye said...

Reposting from the post below:

Okay, I was a fool and stayed up to watch the SPAN regarding the capitulation of the FCC regarding media ownership rules.

This fatuous commissioner named Robert McDowell starts nattering on about how media consolidation is actually media divestiture -- they must sell a tiny fraction of their stations, in order to pursue more profitable opportunities. (Michael Copps, in making his earlier remarks, warned that a reading of Orwell was necessary to understand the ongoing doubletalk. Boy, was he right.) McDowell, this smug bribed balloon in a suit, went on to claim that since the internet exists, large media companies are hobbled by not buying every newspaper, TV and radio station in sight, because double-digit newspaper profits are just so yesterday.


The most innovative media outlets have the least regulation, he said. Oh. He obviously overlooked the child porn regs, the spam regs, the declining net neutrality caused by *lack* of regulation, the warrantless wiretapping of the pipes oligarchally run by heavily-regulated telcos (who yesterday cried for retroactive immunity, for crimes committed for their Administration friends)?

So, the FCC is sympathetic to media conglomerates who demand regulatory and statutory relief on media ownership bans because they want the freedom and potential cash of the internet.... while the AMPTP is sympathetic to media conglomerates who wish to abrogate all their union contracts, because they feel stifled by worker demands to share profits from the fly-by-night, unquantifiable potential profit... of the internet.

Please, please, somebody get the feed of this hearing off C-SPAN tonight, before it fades away, and compare and contrast what the hell the conservative FCC members claim on behalf of their media overlords, versus what the AMPTP claims on behalf of its big macher members. I think we have your shareholder firestarter, right there....


And, to respond to Michael from the post below, McDowell's statement made no distinction between scripted and non-scripted content; in fact, the only time he specifically mentioned news content on the internet was in praising the possibility that women and minorities have equal representation through their websites. As if station ownership and the resultant emphasis on underreported news topic is equivalent to a blog.

This is the page where the FCC will post the video of yesterday's meeting:


Bartleby said...

captain obvious --

You mean people named "M. Night Shyamalan", eh? People with names like that will never revolutionize American media.

It's not the color of the skin, or the culture, its the content of the person and their talent.

Nice xenophobia, dude.

Captain Obvious said...

None at all. It was more a tongue-in-cheek comment than anything.

I just don't feel, regardless of how much of our culture they've been exposed to thus far, they can reproduce its aspects accurately enough to convince an American audience. Exposure and immersion aren't exactly equal to each other. M. Night's work was mentioned, but if I remember, they were mostly art pieces. The farm house in Signs, for example, could have just as easily been represented with slightly different architecture and a setting somewhere in the UK. The story would've remained virtually unchanged.

I don't feel the other guilds will sit idly by and allow the outsourcing to occur unchecked. American writers will continue to create viable product and if the studios aren't interested someone else will be.

You can take that to the bank.

ChuckT said...

Famous last words:

"I don't feel the other guilds will sit idly by and allow the outsourcing to occur unchecked."

Again, there were unions far tougher, larger and more united than any union in Hollywood that have watched their industries get outsourced.

Besides, if the studios decided to do it, there isn't much anyone could do about it. (And, actually, the ball is already in motion - the fact that many writers and hollywood worker bees don't know this is EXACTLY how it will move all of you right out of your comfort zones and out of quite a few writing gigs).

Captain Obvious said...

You can outsource a car design and have someone else operating the robots or stamping the parts, but you can't outsource bankable stars. That's all I'm trying to say.

If they want to do that, they'll need a couple more generations to create new ones, and I doubt this strike will last that long.

ChuckT said...

I see your point. But I don't even think this is something that has just come about because of the strike. They've been thinking about doing this for a long time. And as far as finding the talent abroad, you'd be kidding yourself if you don't think there are many professional writers living abroad who have ALREADY tried to get their foot in the hollywood door before the strike. I honestly don't think studios would have to look far or long to find viable talent overseas. My point is: don't sleep on it.

Captain Obvious said...

I'm sure the rumors are just that; rumors. I'm sure this is more along the lines of trying to find foreign programming that might be palatable to America, not attempts to replace American writers outright. I think the studios realize that that's just not feasible overall.

Captain Obvious said...

(along the lines of trying to fill content voids during the course of the strike, if the AMPTP is trying to dig in for the long haul to make this strike as devastating as possible in an effort to "punish the unwashed masses for their futile attempt to wrest our iron grip from our purse strings" as the AMPTP might put it if they had writers)

ChuckT said...

No. They are not going to try to displace an entire industry of writers. But that's not how entire industries get displaced anyway. There is a domino effect and processes that have been underway that will aid in the eventual displacement of MOST writing assignments in hollywood. New media is an obvious one. But also the fact that the studios are basically doing away with pilot season and cutting the fat out of the budgets that have existed for decades (by, for example, getting writers from overseas) all adds to the eventual end result: far less work for writers than even a year ago.

Put it this way, the passengers on the titanic didn't see the iceberg coming but their inability to understand what was literally right in front of their eyes wasn't enough to stop the inevitable. The iceberg, my friend, is small at the top, but underneath the water it is HUGE. You're looking at the tip of the iceberg.

How many writers are there in the guild? How many writing assignments? How many assignments are going to be cut because of restructuring of the industry by the studio in the wake of the strike, new media, and a failing economy? How many assignments are going overseas? Do the math. The well is drying up this strike and New Media is only going speed that process along.

Captain Obvious said...

You speak of inevitable actions in a rapacious corporate world. The strike is just a convenient catalyst, likely part of the AMPTP master plan, rather than some sudden turning point that made the congloms sit up in bed suddenly one night with the inspiration to destroy the workforce of the United States.

Gotta make sure things stay in perspective. This was part of the AMPTP's end-game all along.

ChuckT said...

"Gotta make sure things stay in perspective. This was part of the AMPTP's end-game all along."


Well, Captain Obvious, THAT much is obvious. The question is, if it's so obvious to people like me, then why did the WGA play right into the hands of the studios by staging a strike that will allow them to do everything that they've needed and wanted to do for some time? Not smart at all.

By the time this is over, I GUARANTEE you the following will be fully realized: (1) the end of pilot season as a business model (which is how many writers sustain their living throughout the year); (2) the end of lucrative development deals being handed out like candy on Halloween (force majeure is just the beginning -- studios have hated the development deal process for quite some time - it weighs down the books and produces very little brilliant product); (3) outsourcing of writing assignments to anyone anywhere in the world who can write a story that is interesting enough to produce (thereby cutting their costs tremendously).

It's done. Thank you striking writers.

Captain Obvious said...

The justification for striking is that glaring violations of the rights of writers are going on as we speak.

The studios are already raking in money on the backs of writers without paying compensation. This is a travesty. What was the amount someone quoted from the news a couple weeks ago? $130 million this year? Keep in mind that's just what journalists could easily uncover from the studios public accounting.

Writers are asking for how much again?

If a business partner was robbing you would you be diplomatic about how you conducted yourself when that same person later asked you to sign a new contract with them?

Why should the response of the writers be any different? Oh, because of doom and gloom?

You would have us prostrate ourselves before them instead? Maybe we can be the TIMID PEASANT character and approach our Media Lordships as beggars; fearful and skittish. Beg them for our bread, and wince and bow our heads should they choose to strike us.

ChuckT said...

Well that is where we disagree tremendously. Writers are paid exceptionally well compared to writers in other industries and other people in this country.

The reason so many of you "only" make an average of 60,000 per year is NOT because your base salary is low, it's because you choose to live the entire year off of the incredibly great salary you make during production season (which is not even six months long). You sit on your butts for the rest of the year collecting residuals from reruns while you "create" more schlock. A junior writer on a sitcom makes around $8,000 per episode PLUS residuals PLUS $22,000 per episode they write. That is an incredible salary for the LOWEST of you to make comparable to the rest of the country. Seriously, you writers are living in LA with your heads up your butts completely removed from reality. You're NOT partners with the studios, you're contracted employees of the studios. Stop claiming glory you don't deserve. Many people help bring a production to fruition (what would your words on paper be without makeup, hair, wardrobe, set designers, etc. - NOTHING).

New Media belongs to no one right now (if anything, it's the tech people who are the kings and queens of new media, not hollywood). You want to get a piece of that, then figure out how to make money online for yourselves. The studios OWN your material. Go online and figure out how to do it for yourself (hint: it's nowhere near as easy as the way it's been done for decades in hollywood). If you're such talented writers and the internet is such a huge pot of gold, then you should have no problem owning your content and making buckets of money online. We're waiting. Show us the way.

Captain Obvious said...

I've never done work-for-hire so I own my spec material 100%. When I contractually relinquish that ownership I gain certain rights. One of those is to receive residuals (which are royalties under another name) when that work is reused for profit.

You might not be happy about that, but the alternative is what? To allow the studios to keep more of the pie?

This isn't unprecedented, and we see it with books and music and things. The only difference is that, because production of the piece begins and ends with them, they retain full ownership of the copyright. They get sweeter deals as a result (and their royalties are still called royalties). Your statement that we don't do this alone and that the other members of the creative process are also important is very redundant. The entire scheme is designed to acknowledge that. That's why we sign the copyright for the written material away and take far less substantial cuts of the pie in the first place. That's our concession.

In work-for-hire situations, that's why we accept far lower up-front payments in exchange for the promise of long-term residuals when reused for profit. That's why we even bother to take the time to turn someone else's idea into viable stories.

Captain Obvious said...

...rather than telling them to do it themselves