Sonntag, Juni 22, 2008

Unintended Consequences ... and Union Stupidity...

Whilst perusing various other things, I ran across this:

Between approximately 1967 and 1978, large amounts of material stored in the BBC's videotape and film libraries were destroyed or wiped to make way for newer programmes. This happened for a number of reasons, the primary one being that agreements with the actors' union Equity and other trade bodies limited the number of times a single programme could be broadcast. These showings were also limited to within a set time period. This was due to the unions' fear that if the channels filled their schedules with repeats, it could lead to lower levels of production, putting actors and other staff out of work. This attitude by the unions had the unintentional side effect of causing many programmes to be junked after their repeat rights had expired, as they were considered to be of no further use to the broadcasters.

As a result, most of the early Dr. Who is simply gone, never to be seen again.

But this mind-set didn't end there: the same thing, basically, happened with many other early TV shows.

Hence the unintended consequence of the union obsession with protetcting their rank and file was to deny the rank and file income from something called ... residuals.

Star Trek, the great breakthrough TV series, was largely a failure during the original broadcast season, and only fan intervention meant that there was a third season at all: the lacklustre ratings of the third season, largely due to poor placement of the time slot - 10 pm on Fridays, do you know how I had to lobby my folks to let me stay up that late back when? - led to the final demise.

The enormous success of the Star Trek franchise is that TV stations took it into syndication and broadcast it to death. Which created the fan base that led to the success of the latter series: even the late Enterprise did better in the ratings than the original series did in that third season.

Of course, if the unions had their way, we'd probably only be able to remember the series, rather than have Paramount be able to earn hundreds of millions of dollars based on residual rights. Everyone in the original series - the main characters - earned multiples of their original pay.

But noooo, the unions didn't want that in England. Hence union stupidity: the episodes are gone, gone, gone, gone.

Unions have their place, but the moment when power becomes the driving principal and short-sighted stupidity reigns, their influence can be downright destructive.

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