The Writers Guild of America, West is stepping up its fight over Rupert Murdoch's proposed $80-billion offer to acquire Time Warner Inc.
In an email letter to members Tuesday, the guild's leaders issued a "call to arms" in response to the offer from 21st Century Fox, saying the merger and other media deals threaten the livelihoods of writers.
"As writers, we face a landscape today that the founders of our Guild would hardly recognize," wrote Guild President Chris Keyser and negotiating committee Co-Chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray. "For decades, there were dozens of significant buyers in television and movies. Then Federal limits on mergers disappeared."
The resulting industrywide consolidation has reduced opportunities for writers, the letter added: "Fewer movies being made. Fewer development deals. Smaller TV staffs. And lower quotes ... because the industry was suddenly in the hands of only six - six! - conglomerates. And the Writers Guild, without a voice in Washington to protest, was unable to save the business from strangling itself.
Now, those six conglomerates are threatening to swallow one another. 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?"
Keyser and his colleagues concluded by asking members to contribute to the union's political action committee in Washington.
"The checks you write to your favorite Senate candidates cannot influence policy," they wrote. "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."