TV Writers Edging Toward a Strike

Brian Stelter rounds up media coverage in today's TV Decoder column:

"Screenwriters by a sizable majority authorized their leaders to call a strike against Hollywood's producers as early as Nov. 1, in votes disclosed Friday," Michael Cieply reported in Saturday's Times.

The Writers Guild of America wants studios and networks "to take a serious look at the Guild proposals – which seek a doubling of DVD residuals, spelling out terms of new media work and broadening WGA jurisdiction over new media, reality and animation," wrote Dave McNary of Variety.

"Writers do not want to strike, but they are resolute and prepared to take strong, united action to defend our interests," said Patric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West, in a statement Friday. "What we must have is a contract that gives us the ability to keep up with the financial success of this ever-expanding global industry."

What would a strike mean for viewers? "Depending on the timing and length of a strike, some television shows would grind along just fine, while others would jerk to a halt," Brooks Barnes wrote in Saturday's Times. " ‘The Simpsons' is safe, for instance, but light a candle for ‘Lost.' And reality shows, whose writers are nonunion, will become even more of a television staple than they are now."

Rebecca Winters of Time magazine said that viewers "would have to find alternatives to some of their favorite scripted shows" by December, as writers stopped churning out scripts for television episodes. She expects "a heavy dose of reality and game shows" in prime time, fewer late-night jokes, more content from abroad, and lots of reruns.

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