Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 9th, 2007 7:59 am by HL
Network control and media consolidation are wringing the creativity out of entertainment.
By Marshall Herskovitz
November 7, 2007
After 20 years and five series, including “thirtysomething” and “My So-Called Life,” my partner, Ed Zwick, and I have — for the time being at least — stopped producing television programs.
It’s not personal. I count as friends many of the executives who work at the networks. We had a deal at one network, ABC, for all of those 20 years, and, in spite of many regime changes, we were always treated with great respect. This is not about how we were treated but rather something much larger: How a confluence of government policy and corporate strategy is literally poisoning the TV business.
It started in 1995 when the Federal Communications Commission abolished its long-standing “finsyn” rules (that’s financial interest and syndication, for those unfamiliar with the term), allowing networks for the first time to own the programs they broadcast. Before that, under classic antitrust definitions, the networks had been confined to the role of broadcaster, paying a license fee to production companies for the right to broadcast programs just two times. The production companies owned all subsequent rights. In the mid-1990s there were 40 independent production companies making television shows. If a particular network didn’t like a show — as famously happened with “The Cosby Show” many years ago — the production company could take it to another network.