Writers Guilds, East and West Support U.S. Resolution 28

News Release

 WGAE Contact:  WGAW Contact:
 Sherry Goldman  Gregg Mitchell
 718.224.4133  323.782.4574

  


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                May 12, 2008

WRITERS GUILDS, WEST AND EAST SUPPORT U.S. SENATE RESOLUTION 28, CONTINUE EFFORTS TO CURB MEDIA CONSOLIDATION LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have expressed public support for U.S. Senate Resolution 28 – a resolution of disapproval that, if passed, would overturn a recent Federal Communications Commission decision allowing for the consolidation of newspapers and local television stations. In a joint letter sent today to U.S. Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) signed by both WGAW President Patric M. Verrone and WGAE President Michael Winship, the Writers Guilds – which represent newswriters in TV, radio, and online media – applauded Senator Dorgan’s support of S.J. Resolution 28, while warning against recent FCC actions that will undoubtedly lead to increased media consolidation of the nation’s major media outlets and result in "a dramatic reduction in the quality and amount of local news coverage throughout the country," as well as "severely impact workers in the news media." The resolution of disapproval comes in response to a December decision by the FCC to allow for the consolidation of local newspapers and television stations in the 20 largest media markets in the country. Additionally, the rules allow for similar mergers in smaller media markets through a waiver process. As the letter in support of the resolution states, "Given the FCC’s history of permissiveness with respect to waivers, and the vagueness of the new rules, the Writers Guilds of America fear this action will trigger a new wave of media consolidation detrimental to communities that rely on local newspapers or television affiliates for local coverage." This is the latest chapter in the Guilds’ ongoing public policy efforts to address the rise of media consolidation and vertical integration within the news and entertainment industries to ensure the free flow of information, as well as freedom of expression, for creative artists and the American public alike in a wide range of media platforms. The complete WGAW-WGAE letter to Senator Dorgan is as follows: May 12, 2008 United States Senator Byron Dorgan 322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510-3405 Dear Senator Dorgan, On behalf of the Writers Guilds of America, East and West, we are writing to express our support for Senate Joint Resolution 28 – a resolution of disapproval of the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to allow for increased cross-ownership of newspaper and broadcast outlets. If allowed to move forward, we believe the actions of the FCC will lead to even greater consolidation of the nation’s major media outlets. This will most likely result in a dramatic reduction in the quality and amount of local news coverage throughout the country and severely impact workers in the news media. Already, we have seen first-hand the effects of media consolidation in all facets of our industry. From entertainment to journalism, there are fewer independent voices in mainstream media. Fewer voices mean fewer viewpoints, a very real and present threat to the democratic principles of our nation. The recent actions by the FCC would permit newspaper-broadcast combinations in the top 20 U.S. markets, many of which already are dominated by a handful of multinational media companies. This rule has the potential to affect local news markets for over 120 million Americans, and could threaten local news coverage for one-third of the American public. What’s more, the new waiver policy contained in the cross-ownership rule may allow for the further consolidation of newspapers and television stations in many other markets. Given the FCC’s history of permissiveness with respect to waivers, and the vagueness of the new rules, the Writers Guilds of America fear this action will trigger a new wave of media consolidation detrimental to communities that rely on local newspapers or television affiliates for local coverage. Even without this rule, WGA members have had to fight the downsizing of news operations throughout the country. In the past few weeks alone, a number of local television stations have announced significant layoffs in their news operations. For example, in early April, CBS announced a downsizing of news operations at its owned and operated local stations. The company’s actions included layoffs at WCBS in New York City, WBBM in Chicago, WBZ in Boston, KPIX in San Francisco, KYW in Philadelphia, KDKA in Pittsburgh, KOVR in Sacramento, and KCWC in Denver. Should the current FCC ruling on cross-ownership stand and television stations and newspapers are allowed to merge, we can certainly expect the companies to combine news operations and further reduce the level of reporting. The result will be additional rounds of layoffs and, as a result, less reporting on issues of local concern and less diversity in local media markets. The Writers Guilds of America fully understand the financial challenges to newspapers in the Internet age. But we adamantly disagree that the solution to these challenges is to allow for the further consolidation of the nation’s media outlets. We thank you for your support of S.J. Resolution 28 and look forward to working with you to insure that we prevent this unnecessary and most dangerous rule from taking effect. Please call upon us if we can be of assistance. Sincerely,

 Patric M. Verrone  Michael Winship
 President  President
 Writers Guild of America, West  Writers Guild of America, East