Friday, February 23, 2007

Finally...we can start looking at the forest

ACTRA has ended its strike (pending ratification by its members, of course...I'll eat my keyboard if they don't), having won major concessions and stood firm for Canadian labour in the face of strong external pressure. Kudos to the ACTRA negotiating team and to the CFTPA for finding common language that allows us all to move on...for now.

The new agreement made significant gains in many areas for ACTRA members, and identified financial realities that producers face in this new age of content creation.

New Media

Despite reaching a tentative agreement on Feb. 16th, Hollywood flexed some muscle and kept the two sides from reaching a deal until the following week because the studios did not want to set a precedent on new media before heading into negotiations with SAG and the WGA later this year. The Americans have an agreement separate from the Canadian producers which allows them to negotiate on a "production-by-production" basis until the issue is "re-opened" in 2009.

It's ain't over 'til it's over

Let me re-iterate my thanks and support to both ACTRA & the CFTPA for meeting the challenges head on and for working so hard. That is (I feel), the real precedent which has set the stage for the next few years of what I believe will be constant negotiation between all parties in the broadcasting industry.

My concerns?
  1. Will the American studios approach the "production-by-production" basis of negotiation in the same fashion that they approached the IPA negotiations? Meaning: will they try to wear ACTRA down with prolonged disputes over single percentages on a "production-by-production"basis?
  2. Will the production industry (service industry specifically) continue to blame actors for the lack of production? Put another way: when SAG goes to the table with the AMPTP, will the actors be portrayed as "hurdles" on the way to a whole new world of advertising revenue?
  3. Will Canadian television programming even exist for Canadian producers to create and Canadian actors to work on?
But, doesn't Canadian TV suck?

No, the financing of Canadian TV sucks.

Now that we've managed a few of the trees, we're finally able to start looking at the forest. It's not good. The ACTRA strike was a (necessary) symptom of a larger disease. The CRTC has announced the creation of a "task force" which will re-evaluate the Canadian Television Fund. Who is on this task force? The very broadcasters who want it to end. And, to be clear, the very broadcasters who started the fund.

I could turn this into a very long blog post, but will end here and prepare for the next several posts. In the meantime, I'd like to refer back to the very first post I put up on this blog and remind you of "net neutrality".

How does "net neutrality" figure into the debate? Control of the internet is being decided in real time. What was the major sticking point for the ACTRA strike? The internet. Where do producers want to put their content? The internet. Where do the major Hollywood studios want to distribute their product? The internet. Where is video content going? You get the point.

If it's important for the boys at "the top"; why shouldn't it be important for us?

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