Links: NBC Under Siege Edition!

The Peacock's feathers are starting to droop. Who will be next?

  • NBC is quietly giving advertisers their money back. In all fairness, the CW is apparently tanking also. The real "ouch" quote is this one about NBC's new non-scripted efforts:
    “We’re trying to understand NBC’s recent moves,” said Laura Caraccioli-Davis, exec vp, Starcom Entertainment. “We are concerned that it might be thinking about adopting a programming strategy like some of its sister cable networks. American Gladiator and even some of the shows they have in development, like Knight Rider, are remakes, being dusted off rather than coming up with new creations.

    “NBC used to be the upscale, quality network,” she added. “We have come to expect quality, iconic programming. Maybe they are searching for the reality hit they don’t have, their own American Idol. But too much reality just doesn’t play well with advertisers.”
    Like I said, ouch.

  • Oh, and Hulu got hacked.

  • But that's okay, there's always FanFare. You know, from SanDisk. Right? Guys? Um...

  • NBC gets picketed in Second Life. Just watch out for virtual Tommy Short showing up and heckling: "Clown car! Clown car!"

    Because we can't recommend them enough...

  • Fans and writers supporting one another and joining the fight for a fair deal (Wall Street Journal)

  • Patrick Goldstein in the LA Times: "Why have the studios walked away from the negotiating table? Although it seemed hard to believe at first, the evidence is overwhelming that they never had any serious intention of making a fair deal, at least the kind of deal that, as Lew Wasserman might have put it, would’ve allowed both sides to come away declaring victory."

  • Robert J Elisberg in the Huffington Post: Why is the AMPTP allowed to gang up on each union one by one? How is that legal? (Answer: It should not be.)
    Competitors are not allowed to negotiate together, to even confer together. It's called collusion. When baseball owners merely created an "information bank" for offers being made to free agent players, they were fined $280 million. Two competitors cannot talk with one another if there's just a hint of agreement. Imagine ALL competitors in an industry getting together to set ALL wages and ALL labor conditions.

    It doesn't happen. Anywhere. Not "anywhere in the U.S." Anywhere in the free world.

    Except Hollywood.
    Between this and the FCC nonsense going on, this strike could end up spilling over into the halls of Congress. And that's the last place the conglomerates want to find themselves.

  • From Variety.com: "If the Sundance Film Festival can figure out a new formula to pay for internet downloads, why not the AMPTP?"

  • Local news from Minneapolis on picketers taking the writers' case to the public. Bravo to everyone who's picketing despite the chill in Minneapolis and, of course, NYC!

  • Petrea Burchard writes about the why SAG and the WGA are are sticking together her column in NowCasting.com's ezine, ActorsInk.

  • Photos submitted by Athena007 on Picasa
  • Jack Black rocks the crowd (Page Six)
  • Tenacious D performance (YouTube)

    This report was sent to us by a rally goer who requested anonymity:
    Fremantle Sr. VP David Johnson was seen with a picket sign and a WGA T-shirt, hanging out on the sidelines and then walking with it into his office building. A number of us noticed that and wondered "what for?" So someone asked, "You joining us with a picket sign?" He responded with a smile, "Sure, why not?"
    Collecting stuff for his memorabilia collection?

    Caitlin said...

    Crumble, NBC, crumble! You'll be doing yourselves more good than harm and others will follow in your wake. This gives me a good feeling. If nothing else, it proves all those stories about different studios with different views true. Go WGA!

    Intrigued said...

    The problem with this article is that the networks have not stopped running their original "scripted" content yet. NBC is offering refunds to advertisers because their orignial "scripted" content written by the WGA tanked! This is not good news for the WGA, although the author of the article doesn't seem to grasp that point.

    Unknown said...

    I just started reading this blog. You guys sound like such a bunch of star fuckers. "Oohh.. look at this celebrity who supports us!" "Look Ma, I made it in pictures!!" What kind of strike is this? You guys sound like you care more about getting your name and picture out there than you do in making a good deal that benefits everyone. Oh, I forgot, this is Hollywood.

    JeFF-Rey said...

    Kink, of course it's a star-struck affair. As of late the sidewalks have been all show while the negotiating table has had no substance. Huff Post had a great article today (which didn't make the posting) about this very thing. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/will-thomas/wga-members-should-reeval_b_76267.html?view=screen

    Unknown said...

    Hulu did not get hacked. NBC purposely allows embedded videos. You really need to understand this if you want to negotiate effectively. Opening up all of the content and allowing it to be distributed anywhere, anytime, with embedded ads is a good thing. And a money maker. Please make sure everyone for the WGA has done their homework on this before the sit down with the studios again. Studios are starting to get it. Catch up.

    Evan Waters said...

    To be fair, collusion like this also happens in the music industry (see the RIAA.) Which isn't quite Hollywood, although it's almost next to it.

    MrKlaatu said...

    The networks constantly over-estimated their ratings and then have to give the advertisers extra "make-good" spots. The difference is that this time they don't have the spots to give so they have to give cash. Not part of their plans.

    Because there wwill be little to no scripted programming in the new year, they don't have suitable make-goods to offer. An advertiser who wants the solid demos of the Office or Heroes isn't goint to take the trashy demos American Gladiators is bound to get.

    Krono said...


    Actually judging by the article, the networks seem to have oversold their available space or something like that. Compounding the problem for NBC at least is that NBC seems to be focusing on reality shows, and apparently the advertisers aren't too fond of reality TV.

    Intrigued said...


    unless i dont understand...

    has nothing to do with overselling. (kind of impossible to do considering u know exactly how much time you have available and advertisers buy the time associated with specific shows)

    my understanding is that the networks guarantee the advertisers a certiain rating (number viewers) their ads will reach. when the ratings fall short the networks are liable to refund a portion of the advertising fee or give free ad tome to make up for it

    Krono said...


    Yeah, that'd be why I said or something like that. Taking a second look at it, you're right it is involving ratings.

    Though it still falls onto the networks more than the writers.

    "They also contend the nets created the problem by carrying over makegoods from last season, and by overselling scatter inventory at hefty prices rather than holding back more for makegoods. “They got greedy, and now they are paying the price,” said one buyer."

    So it seems they still tried to sell more than they could actually deliver. And ad space buyers are still not happy about NBC apparently looking to go with more nonscripted programming.

    The bottom line is that NBC is currently hurting, and it could be hurting more in the near future if it doesn't get the writers back to work.

    MrKlaatu said...

    They almost never refund money (the article says it's been years). They offer additional spots. They don't have them. No shows. No spots.

    American Gladiator. LOL. Here's what NBC's promo says about it: "One of the top sports shows ever. Combining the best elements of wrestling with the real-life drama of extreme sports competition."

    Hahaha. Think they overcharged advertisers for this one too?

    MrKlaatu said...

    And here are the comments from nbc.com:

    "cant wait to see the women hulks"

    "You train wit me biatch!!!"

    "Future American Gladiator, huge fan, love this freaking show!!!"
    Big Bad Jill

    "how do i get on this show"
    Johnny O

    Looks like a really desirable demo for advertisers.

    Michael said...

    um, except that the article states pretty clearly that the shortfall isn't due to the strike but to bad ratings. And I don't think that the decline in ratings (for scripted stuff) is anything for WGA members who work in TV to gloat about...

    Unknown said...

    when will the must read articles about writers doing rewrites and polishes on their movies going to get published?

    Jackie said...

    Okay haters--why don't you just go back to your jobs with the AMPTP already? Or better yet, give me your AMPTP blog so I can come and write shit about YOU.

    this isn't about the petty shit anymore. the AMPTP has publicly shown way too many dirty tactics already. Even if you don't support the strike, you would have to be a paid member of the AMPTP to side with them right now

    David Grenier said...

    I'm pretty sure the port operators have a trade association for the entire west coast that bargains with the ILWU. In some ways it actually works well for the workers, since they have one master contract for the industry and don't lose seniority if they, say, move from Tacoma to Long Beach.

    In all honesty, the AMPTPs "collusion" isn't the problem. The problem is the inherent weakness of a guild structure that tends to pit one class of workers against another (see BTL vs ATL) and allows or even encourages union-scabbing.

    The middle of an labor dispute is not the time to deal with the issue, but those of you concerned about the future of the labor movement in your industry need to seriously be working on moving away from a 19th century guild structure and towards a 21st century industrial union structure.

    BTL Guy said...

    The effect of negotiating separate deals is to square up with the moderates and get at least some people back to work as soon as possible.

    So, why not grant next-contract vouchers to productions with the moderate studios/networks? As others have posted, this would have to be only for shows produced by the networks for the networks (ie, if you wanted to approach NBC, grant vouchers for NBCUTV shows produced for NBC, but not shows produced by Fox or WB that air on NBC).

    The biggest problem, as I see it, is identifying who the true moderates really are.

    You'd also have to keep some leverage on them to remain a voice of moderation at the table. The last thing you want is to reward a moderate, who can then afford to go hardline now that his shows are back on the air. A contractual pledge to vote yea on certain WGA proposals, perhaps?

    It's just a rough idea, but it could work. We gotta start looking for unconventional solutions if the studios are going to continue being so obstinate...

    Intrigued said...

    btl guy,

    I like the way you think. I believe the WGA really needs to step up their game with a new approach to these negotiations because (IMO) they are being outmanuevered at every turn.

    Eventhough I like your idea of singling out one studio/network to send writers back to force dissention among the AMPTP. Would you not be worried about the dissention among the those writers still on the picket lines watching other writers earning a paycheck? This could possibly break up the members of the WGA faster than it would split the AMPTP. Also, considering that AMPTP requires a unanimous vote to reach an agreement, what would prevent the one studio/network you selected from becoming firmest hardliner during the negotions with the WGA considering they would not have anything to lose in a protracted strike and yet everything gain as they have a competitve advantage over the other AMPTP members?

    Unknown said...

    I didn't hack anyone.

    -Matt Schlicht

    BTL Guy said...

    Intrigued -

    You make an excellent point re the writers still on strike. I guess the only way to solve that would be to open up the idea to a WGA-wide vote and only proceed if it gets a super-majority of some type (60%? 75%? 90%).

    As for the moderate studio then turning hardliner, I also agree and mentioned the idea in my post.

    You'd have to get something in writing that they would vote yea on certain proposals from the WGA -- in effect, they will have to have agreed to everything (or nearly everything) that the WGA currently has on the table in order to get the vouchers.

    And don't forget, this would still only give them back a portion of their programming. Sticking with the idea of giving vouchers to NBC just for demonstration's sake, just look at their Monday night:

    Chuck - produced by Warners - no voucher
    Heroes - produced by NBC Universal - voucher
    Journeyman - produced by Fox - no voucher

    I haven't worked it all the way through, but it's an idea that might work...

    David Lee said...


    To be clear, Hulu is not officially online yet. It's in beta. Invite only. The beta site was visited and the shows there were embedded on Muhammad Saleem's site. Hacked or not, the site was raided prior to its official release and the beta site precautions were broken.



    And, yes, we get the embedding thing. Thanks.

    David Lee said...


    My mistake and apologies re: confusing your work on OpenHulu and Muhammad Saleem. It was his post and your interview. OpenHulu isn't Muhammad's site. It's yours. Right?

    Unknown said...

    Yes, its my site. Don't get me wrong though, Saleem deserves credit for a great blog post.

    Aryoch said...

    I just read this part of a post on the front page:

    Competitors are not allowed to negotiate together, to even confer together. It's called collusion. When baseball owners merely created an "information bank" for offers being made to free agent players, they were fined $280 million. Two competitors cannot talk with one another if there's just a hint of agreement. Imagine ALL competitors in an industry getting together to set ALL wages and ALL labor conditions.

    It doesn't happen. Anywhere. Not "anywhere in the U.S." Anywhere in the free world.

    Except Hollywood.

    Well, stop? Is that an option?

    Has the WGA considered striking deal with specific studios or majors?

    If NBC and CW are getting desperate, how about starting there? Might the CW be interested in signing their own deal directly with the WGA? If they get desperate enough, is this possible?

    Aryoch said...

    Perhaps one way to prevent divisiveness within the WGA (if some writers went back to work while others kept picketing) would be if the writers who were sent back to work paid a portion of their checks into a fund to help the other writers with bills, etc.

    Don't most unions help out their members with a stipend of some sort during strikes? Isn't that part of what dues go towards?

    JessyS said...

    NBC's problems might be from some scripted problems, but most of that is from reality/game shows. Biggest Loser wasn't really a hit, plus Deal or No Deal is starting to fade, and to make matters worse, it appears that the entire NBC 2.0 plan is sinking like a rock.

    makomk said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    makomk said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    makomk said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    makomk said...

    As people have pointed out, this sort of joint labour negotiation is explicitly legal, and for good reason. If labour law worked the same way as competition law, they'd be arresting the WGA members for anti-competitive practices right now. Since joint negotiation by unionised workers is legal, joint labour negotiations be industry has to be too, or you run into some really interesting issues.

    Also, I think joint labour negotiations by industry is legal everywhere in the US, not just Hollywood.

    Finally, jeremy has a point - I suspect that, if the WGA got what they wanted, allowing the embedding of videos into other sites would be contractually risky at best.

    Anonymous said...

    Let me point out something special here - the refunds made by NBC to advertisers amounted to .... 10 million dollars which "represents a small portion of NBC's business and accommodates the changing needs of our clients"

    Okay, so NBCU's share of the WGA's proposal for Internet residuals would be how much per year - someone do the math for me because I don't know all the details of the proposal but I recall it costing TOTAL per year, divided amongst ALL producers something like 56 million - I think less than 10 million that's for sure. As an accommodation to the advertiser 'clients' it's an insignificant sum, while a lesser sum to its suppliers of content is outrageous.

    Does Al Gore need to go on TV and do the math for us?