Writers Guild Leaders Sound Alarm Over Fox’s Time Warner Bid, Pitch for Funds

Leaders of the Writers Guild of America West, alarmed by Rupert Murdoch’s $80 billion bid for Time Warner Inc., are pitching for funds from the 8,000 members of their guild.

The missive — sent out by WGA West president Chris Keyser and negotiating committee co-chairs Billy Ray and Chip Johannessen — asks for contributions the guild’s political action committee, citing the prospect of diminished competition and fewer buyers for scripts.

“As writers, we face a landscape today that the founders of our Guild would hardly recognize,” the trio said. “For decades, there were dozens of significant buyers in television and movies. Then Federal limits on mergers disappeared. FCC regulations requiring independent production in television were repealed.”

The resulting consolidation led to networks and studios combining and independent production disappearing, the letter said, with fewer movies being made, fewer development deals, smaller TV staffs and lower quotes because the industry was suddenly in the hands of only six conglomerates — with the WGA lacking a voice in Washington to protest.

“Now, those six conglomerates are threatening to swallow one another,” the missive said. “Think of that. Between them, Fox and Time-Warner would control 40% of the industry’s writing jobs. What happens if more consolidation follows?  What happens if one mega-company ends up devouring them all?”

That’s why the WGA West has a PAC, they noted, pointing to efforts to fight off mergers and champion net neutrality.

“Giving to the Guild PAC is vital to your future,” the letter said. “The checks you write to your favorite Senate candidates cannot influence policy. But a powerful PAC, supporting candidates in the name of the WGA, gives us a fighting chance in the war against the corporate madness that threatens us all.”

The letter noted that Keyser and showrunner Shawn Ryan had generated significant traction when they testified at recent Senate hearings on net neutrality.

“When our Guild speaks, Washington listens,” it added. “But to make sure our voices are heard, we need power. Simply put, we need you. This, then, is our call to arms. In the industry as it exists today, writers no longer have the luxury of staying out of politics. Rather, more than ever, we need a voice in them.”

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