News Release

Writers’ Strike: Problems and Solutions

Entertainment Weekly reports: “Talks between the striking Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers resume today after breaking last Thursday. Since then, each side has circulated statements indicating that there remain considerable differences between them.”

STEVE BODOW
Head writer for “The Daily Show,” Bodow’s oped “Why I went from punch lines to the picket line” was published by the Daily News: “The execs have argued time and again that television content appearing online is strictly promotional, and under Guild rules, they don’t have to pay for promotional uses of our work.

“So I checked this out … and it was true! I watched last week’s episode of ‘The Office’ over at NBC.com, and it was promotional. It was promoting BlackBerrys and Fidelity Investments and Clorox bleach. Nice of NBC to give those ads away for free …

“What’s that? NBC got paid for those ads? Just like if they ran on TV? It’s the same over on the very fine new Web site for ‘The Daily Show,’ by the way: unlimited clips, sponsored in part by — get this — TiVo. I assume that’s some ad-sales guy’s idea of irony.”

Bodow and other New York City-based late-night, and other, writers are picketing Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp on Tuesday and NBC on Wednesday.

See the Web page for the Writers Guild of America, East; a blog for the writers is also online; a YouTube video “Not The Daily Show” featuring another “Daily Show” writer is available.
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DEAN BAKER
Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker wrote the paper “The Artistic Freedom Voucher: Internet Age Alternative to Copyrights,” which outlines a system that “would allow each individual to contribute a refundable tax credit of approximately $100 to a creative worker of their choice” as an alternative to copyright.

He said today: “The writers’ strike stems directly from the difficulty of trying to adapt copyright, a relic of the feudal system, to the 21st century economy. The entertainment industry relies on the fees it collects from restricting the free flow of creative material through copyright protection. These restrictions, and the industry’s effort to garner the fees for itself, harm both the public and creative workers. It would be far more efficient to develop a system that pays creative workers up front, like a publicly funded Artistic Freedom Voucher system, and then lets their material circulate freely across the Internet.”
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STEPHEN SHALOM
Professor of political science at William Paterson University, Shalom is author of the essay “In Search of Economic Justice” and is part of the participatory economics group at Zmag.org. He said today: “Is there an alternative to an economy based on greed and competition? In fact, analysts and activists have put forward a vision and a rather detailed model of how an alternative economy — one based on democracy and equitable cooperation — might operate.”
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NELSON LICHTENSTEIN
Lichtenstein is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy. He is the author of State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, and Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism.

Lichtenstein said today: “For years the conventional wisdom has assured us that in the U.S.’s creative new knowledge economy, strikes, unions and labor-management conflict were utterly passe, perhaps a remnant of the old rust-belt, but certainly out of place in the hip world of new media and iPod downloads. But here we are in the second month of a strike by 12,000 TV and film writers, some of the coolest, most imaginative, and certainly post-industrial ‘workers’ in our technologically innovative economy. If such conflicts can take place in Hollywood, they can happen anywhere.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.