This I Believe

Greg - Los Angeles, California
Entered on November 15, 2007

I believe that America’s greatest export is its culture, and that mass media is the pointy end of the cultural spear. I wish more striking writers and struck companies recognized that mass media is a national treasure and its preservation is in the nation’s best interests.

I believe that Levi’s, rock & roll and reruns of “Taxi” did more to “tear down this wall” than any State Dept initiative or political speech. The projection of America’s force is less about its mighty Navy than it is about its sitcoms and procedurals.

I believe that writers, directors and actors are the faces of that pointy end of the spear, and as such, carry an importance that is both priceless and irreplaceable.

I wish my Guild had spent its time influencing Washington instead of striking America’s Next Top Model or trying to control product placement.

I wish my Guild leaders had reminded the FCC that in return for the free use of public airwaves, the networks have a responsibility to the public good, and that vertical integration and consolidation do not conspire to waive that responsibility.

I wish someone had stressed to the FCC and to Congress that media ownership isn’t free, but comes at a price. And I wish that someone had reminded our Senators and Congresspersons that Hollywood can only continue to operate as it does with Congress’s blessings. Reminded that the freedom to broadcast is a gift, not an irrevocable right.

I wish the Guild had made a point to the legislative gatekeepers that while the Internet is currently unregulated, it can become regulated in a nanosecond, and that the networks’ ability to shift their emphasis from over-air broadcast to broadband distribution does not obviate their collective obligation to serve the public’s interests. Or, importantly, the interests of those who create their content.

I believe that Senators Boxer and Feinstein, Congressman Waxman and others can be incentivized to sit with the broadcasters and explain to them that fair dealing – with the public and with labor and with the creative community – is vital if they, the broadcasters, wish to continue to conduct their businesses more or less unfettered.

I believe the FCC can apply pressure to the studios and networks. And the Congress can apply pressure to the studios and networks. So, too, the SEC. (Congloms cannot ballyhoo record profits and then in the next breath complain about losing money.)

I wish the Guild had used its valuable but limited resources to wage a smart battle instead of squandering those resources on strategies unsuited to our unique circumstances.

I wish we were shouting down an abuse of privilege rather than an abuse of a location permit.

I believe we could’ve done better, and that we still can.