A blog from http://www.mediapost.com/ The Real TV Strike: May Be Behind Enemy Lines That Are Closer Than You Think A media critique by Wayne Friedman , Monday, January 7, 2008AFTER WATCHING ONE POORLY EXECUTED, scripted network program the other night, my wife (who'd been rolling her eyes throughout) finally made this remark: "Writers are on strike since December? Seems like a lot longer."
Maybe it all makes sense. Broadcast ratings have been dropping by double digits for some time -- even before the strike. Consumers now have the ability to pick and choose the programs they like and fast-forward through the crap they hate -- and not just commercials.
The industry has been in turmoil, and maybe the networks have one thing right: TV's problems run deep.
Does the writing suck? I don't know. Little more than a day into the new year, and Leno grabbed his highest ratings since 2006 -- without writers. Critics talk about "the golden age of TV drama" -- yet fewer and fewer people seem to be interested -- or so ratings tell us.
So you say you like well-written shows like "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "Deadwood" and "Roswell"? Guess what? Those shows weren't good enough. Maybe it was the writing.
Who is making the decisions at the networks? Media buyers want to know - especially over the past few weeks. One major media buyer asked me to do a story about why there has seemingly been a revolving door of network TV entertainment chiefs over the past few years - as if media conglomerates have no clue what consumers want.
Listen to the critics and you would think "Grey's Anatomy," "Ugly Betty," "30 Rock," "Gossip Girl," or "Jericho" are the second coming.
Sure, these are all good shows. But apparently that is not enough - not when networks need to buy up to 30 pilots at $3 million to $5 million each to get those better shows. Networks don't want to spend $100 million to $150 million anymore on development -- not when reality shows can do the job for much less.
Maybe there's been a different kind of strike going on for some time concerning television. Now all we need is figure out is where the real picket lines are.
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