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Hollywood Writer's Strike A Bad "Script" For All

Monday, 5 Nov 2007 | 2:25 PM ET
Writers Guild of America
CNBC.com
Writers Guild of America

The Writers Guild contract expired at midnight--though there's no strike just yet, it is NOT looking good. The rhetoric last night was so angry and stubborn on both sides, I'm predicting a strike by mid-week next week.

The WGA says the producers association "refused to continue to bargain until we agree that the hated DVD formula be extended to Internet downloads." HATED? Ouch!

And the Producers association--the AMPTP--says they refuse to budge on the writer's main sticking point: increasing their DVD payments and nailing down a digital distribution deal. Some reconciliation on both sides would be nice at this point.

A strike would directly impact anyone who watches TV. If even if you're a fan of late night TV, sorry, you're out of luck. Shows like NBC's "Tonight show", CBS' "David Letterman", Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" will all be affected as well.

What about scripted TV shows? The networks have stockpiled enough scripts (they were due yesterday) to last until early next year. So if you're a big fan of "The Office" or "Pushing Daisies," then you could say buhbye to your favorite hour of the week by spring of 2008.

But if reality TV is your thing, you'll be fine: in fact you'll have a whole bunch more reality shows to choose from. They may not be any good, but the airwaves will be crammed with new reality formats should the strike drag on.

And realize that a strike would also mean a huge hit to media stocks. CBS has the most exposure because its TV network is the largest percent of the company, more any other media company.

Disney's ABC is also exposed, though it does have reality hits "Dancing with the Stars" and "Extreme Makeover." ABC's also been stockpiling, giving early renewals to 14 series, but it also has the most to lose because it had the strongest fall slate of the networks. As for the other networks, maybe they'd be just a tiny bit relieved that they get to scrape their fall slate clean?

NewsCorp's Fox, has a bit of an advantage. Fox has fewer hours of primetime programming, and six hours of unscripted/reality programming, plus juggernaut "American Idol" due out early next year. But Fox also faces huge challenges with "24", which is slated to premiere on January 13. But as of the end of this week the show will only have completed about a third of its 24-episode order.

So what's it going to do if the strike continues? will it air just the beginning of Jack Bauer's day or will it put the series on hold? "24" Fans aren't the only ones hoping it won't come to that.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.