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WGA takes anti-merger stand - Broadcasting & Cable

WGA takes anti-merger stand

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The trade union for TV writers is calling on the federal government to
reverse pro-consolidation media policies of the last decade.

The Writers Guild of America charges that media consolidation, along with the
increasing integration between TV networks and program producers, is sapping the
industry's creativity.

'Erosion of quality and creativity has closely paralleled the increasing
domination of the airwaves by a few behemoths,' WGA Strategic Planning Director
Charles Slocum told the FCC last week.

An FCC decision in 1993 allowing networks to produce and own their
entertainment programs combined with steadily decreasing limits on station
ownership have forced TV projects to pass through a 'narrowing funnel' that
overwhelmingly favors profits and ratings over creative risk-taking, Slocum
said.

The FCC has given 'a tiny group of like-minded people who share similar
financial goals absolute control over what Americans see on television,' he
said.

The WGA called on the FCC to maintain, revive and tighten a broad
array of ownership and programming control regulations including

  • retaining the 30% cap on national pay-TV subscriber share
  • barring dual ownership of TV networks (both broadcast and cable)
  • reviving restrictions on network program production
  • limiting the hours a single supplier can produce for a network and rejecting Echostar's bid to buy DirecTV

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