Voices Of Uncertainty - The AMPTP In Their Own Words

Curator's Note

Members of the AMPTP are seen here sounding quite certain that the internet is the future of entertainment and the key to the continued good fortunes of global media conglomerates everywhere. With the sounds of old media typing away underneath, reminding us that indeed the entertainment at issue still needs to be written, the CEOs seem to be very clear that digital revenues will be a windfall. The only thing they are not sure of is exactly how huge that windfall will be. Still, due to all of the future uncertainty about business models and revenue streams, the studios claim that the WGA’s proposal for increased residuals could actually cost producers more than they earn, “thereby dooming the Internet media business before it ever gets started.” Consequently, the AMPTP put forth their “New Economic Partnership” which offers the writers $250 for a year’s streaming of an hour-long TV episode and zero for internet streaming of movies. Additionally, the studios can classify any streaming internet re-use as “promotional” and consequently, pay writers nothing. That certainly sounds like a bad deal to those on strike. Which brings us to a very uncertain future for writers; negotiations remain in limbo, the strike continues and yet, the AMPTP will continue to get paid, one way and/or another. Wide-ranging global revenue streams from all types of media and entertainment properties bring a great deal of security to their corporate owners. If ratings go down or the box office is sluggish, there are still Disneyland tickets, People magazines and Myspace ads to be bought and sold. And of course, there will always be screens to feed. Of that, we can all be certain.


There's a very high degree of performance in all these interviews and statements. They know the future is fuzzy and dangerous, but they have to project their certainty in their survival. Accordingly, Murdoch and Redstone fare best in this montage, not from validity but from the credibility of their business personas. Say what you will about how they've run their corporations, or even about what kind of people they are: from a shareholder's perspective, they exude the fiscal calm that only comes from experience. And then there's Ben Silverman, about whom...well... Anyway, so much of whatever "new" relationships between labor, capital, content, and distribution emerge in the next year-plus will be based on these kinds of performances: discursive alchemy meant to either drag the carcasses of 20th century media industries into the 21st, or (on the other side) bury the former entirely.

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