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An “Open Letter” to Carolyn Hinsey, Soap Opera Digest
Daytime "scribes" everywhere were disappointed to read your column
in the Dec. 4th Soap Opera Digest suggesting that we have no stake in the
current contract negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the
AMPTP, and have been forced to walk away from our jobs simply because we are
Nothing could be further from the truth. For the first time in years, our issues are
exactly the same as all writers in every genre — we want Guild contracts and
fair compensation for our work whether it's aired on TV, streamed on the net or
downloaded to a cell phone or other device.
Our position is basic: If it's on
a screen and it moves, the Guild covers it.
And we want residuals for the re-use of that work. Residuals can be a boon to daytime writers
between jobs and are a long-established cost of airing our work in other
that means in real terms for writers is the difference between being able to
provide for your family — or not.
Having health insurance — or not.
Becoming seniors with a Union-provided pension — or not. Daytime writers share these concerns with
every other writer in the industry.
contend that "soaps are not released on DVD or streamed onto the Web," but even
a cursory cruise around the internet would have revealed otherwise. You can now buy any one of several Dark
Shadows DVD sets on Amazon for up to $54.99, and fans are clamoring to have
their currently aired soaps follow suit. The reason more soaps aren't released
on DVD is because complete episodes can already be downloaded on NBC, ABC and
CBS websites. Advertising is being sold
on these sites and often imbedded into the show itself. But even though companies get revenue from
advertisers, still there's no universal agreement for compensating the writers
for the re-use of their work.
suggest we exempt ourselves from this strike.
But why? We're steamed. Days of Our Lives has been available for sale
on the net for over a year. Writers'
share? Zilch. And though Televest entered into an agreement
with us, other producers have yet to do the same. You suggest daytime writers are ill-timed in
their demands? We say we've been
assert we're "screwing the pooch" with this labor action and that If "the shows
get worse and ratings fall there will be fewer jobs in daytime" But the reality is that there will always be
a demand for romance and serials. Audiences aren't shrinking, but the way they
access content is diversifying. The internet is the future of soaps. Sure, daytime TV has taken a "hit". But not from the writers. As the last twenty years has shown, networks
certainly don't need us to strike to pull the plug on a show.
NBC recently cancelled Passions — a Guild-covered show. Then they created a new soap for the internet
called Coastal Dreams. The writer,
though paid, gets none of the benefits that a Guild contract would have
provided. More and more serialized
shows are being created for the net without proper compensation for the writers
who create them, and that is why action now is both sensible and necessary.
Over 130 daytime writers signed an ad taken out in the Nov. 30th
Variety pledging their support for the strike and the issues about which all
writers are passionate. We urge you to
The Daytime Committee of the Writers Guild of America East and