In the Trenches: Random rants, musings and media tales about the US writers’ strike

Today's pundit is Tony Chapman, founder/CEO of Capital C, who believes that we're currently in 'one of those rare moments in history when the world changes.'

With characteristic candour, Tony Chapman, founder/CEO of Toronto-based Capital C, tells MiC he believes the strike by the Writers Guild of America is creating a watershed moment in marketing history, and possibly even a point of no return for media budgeting.

Are the writers striking the death knell of television?

‘Anyone in the media business – content creators, marketers and advertising agencies – will look back at this time as one of those rare moments in history when the world changed. That short period of time when the lights were slowly setting on the golden age of mass media, while we were being blinded by the spotlight being cast on new media. It is simply good fortune to be a player during these times, as I’m sure it was for those in the transportation business when the horse and buggy were giving way to the automobile, or when electricity was replacing the candle.’

Why would the writers pick this time to strike?

‘I have no idea what their issues are, and I am sure they’re justified. However, to accelerate this transformation from mass media to new media by starving viewers of content and motivating them to look elsewhere for the quality entertainment they crave seems insane. The viewer’s options are limitless, from DVD rentals to video games, from social community networks like Facebook to surfing the web or reading a book.

‘This strike is not just dimming the lights on mass media, it’s throwing up blackout curtains. They’re killing their golden goose. Advertising dollars are flowing into new media. However, the amount of wealth generated and shared in the creation of content for mass media will never be matched online.

‘The producers, writers and actors of mass media programs like Seinfeld, CSI, I Love Lucy, MASH, Friends and thousands of others built their audience on network television, but created their wealth reselling their programming into syndication and new packaging like DVDs. New media will not offer up the same opportunity to content creators. It’s too fragmented, the audience is fleeting and the most important point is that once programming is posted in the digital world, it is effectively in the public domain.

‘Furthermore, for those of us in the business of marketing, all those television dollars that made up much of a mass marketer’s budget will be repurposed in this economy to the income statement – and once there, will be very hard to get back into marketing budgets in future years.’