First of all, apologies, dear City of Industry readers: We've been gone since Friday, thanks to Yom Kippur and a family health emergency.
While we were gone, something quite interesting happened: Hollywood's serfs, bondsmen and chattel actually spoke out against their corporate slaveholders. Shockingly enough, Washington heard them.
As CNET reports today, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and all five commissioners traveled to L.A.for hearings with independent media producers, artists and the conglomerates.
What the commissioners heard was alarming:
"Ray" director Taylor Hackford, also a VP at the Directors Guild of America, explained that independently produced television shows are on the verge of extinction as TV networks continue to gulp down media production houses.
As CNET relates,
"He said that in 1993, about 66 percent of network television programs came from independent producers, while the remaining 44 percent were produced by the networks. Thirteen years later in 2006, independent producers account for only 22 percent of television shows aired on the network, and 76 percent of programming comes from the networks, he said."
Simply put, the consolidation is killing creativity.
As Variety noted, Stephen J. Cannell, the creator of "The A Team" and "The Rockford Files" opened with a damning commentary on the practical effects of such a lack of ownership biodiversity. "Cannell opened the comment period by stressing that previous easing of...ownership rules has stripped indie producers of the ability to protect content since they can no longer move from one network to another. After the...rules were scrapped, he said, CBS refused to air a pilot he had produced with George C. Scott unless it could obtain Cannell's financial interest."
What's interesting is the lack of agents present at the hearings; if Washington is truly interested in hearing the effects of consolidation on deal-making, they ought to subpoena Richard Lovett from Creative Artists Agency, or Jim Wiatt at William Morris. That's when we'll all be in for some real entertainment.