2007: HASTA LA VISTA, BABY: The end of a calendar year is meaningless to the TV business, as the main TV season sprawls over fall and winter and ends with the last days of spring, but this year, thanks to the Hollywood writers’ strike, there’s actually a sense of finality hanging over the small screen as 2007 shudders to an end. Without a settlement in sight, the fall TV season is effectively dead. Even if the producers and networks made a deal with the writers before the last Christmas tree hits the curb in the post-holiday doldrums, it would take months to get new episodes back on the schedule.


My continuing poll of readers shows that most of them support the writers, but that a vocal minority are indifferent, and see the strike as a minor inconvenience, having already moved their TV consumption habits either online or over to the catalogue of DVD full-season box sets. The picture is filled out a bit by a recent Hollywood Reporter story, which said 53 per cent of Canadians polled said the strike would “negatively impact” their viewing habits.


The news is a bit of a wet willie for advertisers and media buyers, who will press the networks to offer free advertising time to make up for eyes lost with the lack of new shows and increasing number of reruns.


“Preparing for a prolonged writers’ strike,” read the Hollywood Reporter piece, “Canadian advertisers have drawn up contingency plans that include redeploying ad dollars into either popular U.S. reality series such as Survivor and American Idol, homegrown Canadian shows or alternative digital platforms.”


Let’s assume that the latter two options are well down the list of priorities for advertisers, who can’t bring themselves to give all their ad dollars to big reality shows. The fallout is that however Idol performs this season, and even if ratings continue the decline that started gathering steam last season, the show will still make scads of money.

There might not be a lot to watch, but these are still fascinating — even revolutionary — times for TV. I personally look forward to another year of columns written without having to watch a single minute.


Rick McGinnis writes about music, movies, books and television, but not opera. He walked 47 miles of barbed wire and has a cobra snake for a necktie.