Sunday, October 9, 2016

Gap between “Public” and “Stakeholder” #DigiCanCon views needs repair

One of the odd contributions to the #DigiCanCon discussion was from ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists).  A tweet of their press release was re-tweeted by the Writers Guild of Canada (screenwriters), which is how I noticed it.

In their press release ACTRA proves Michael Geist's point.  Michael Geist was writing about how audiences (potential fans) were concerned with discovery and access to content, while "stakeholders" were focused on money.  In their reply ACTRA not only ignores what audiences were saying, but falsely claims that we were also talking about money.

I am a television fan.  I'm not just a television viewer, but a fan of the shows I like.  I don't watch sports or reality television, and focus on scripted programming.  I go to ComicCon as well as Ottawa Pop Expo, primarily to watch panels given by actors and screenwriters.  I am not only a fan of the programming they create but also of the creators, who I follow from show to show.  I currently watch the Arrowverse because of panels given at previous ComicCon from actors I became fans of from other shows.  In this case it was my love of Doctor Who since childhood, and listening to John Barrowman in fall 2014 speaking about Arrow and this spring Arthur Darvill speaking about Legends of Tomorrow.

I'm not going to generate one now, but any list of members of ACTRA and the Writers Guild of Canada that I am a fan of would be quite large (I held up my DVD of Sanctuary season 2 when I spoke in front of the C-32 committee). While I'm not exclusive to Canadian programming, some of the shows I have been the biggest fan of were filmed in Canada (many in Vancouver Film Studios).

Fans like me that should be seen as an important stakeholder for the members of these unions.

When I go to ComicCon I spend more than the entrance fee.  In a weekend I easily spend more money than a 4 year subscription to Netflix, which includes getting autographs from actors and writers. I badly want to fund the creators I am a fan of so that they can continue to create the shows I love. From many people I've spoken to on this issue, I know I am not alone in this.

The reality is that money isn't the issue for fans.  There are many barriers put against my ability to watch many of the shows I want to watch, leave alone being allowed to pay.  My posting from earlier today is only one of many I've written over decades trying to alert fellow creators to this problem. I am only a fan when it comes to "television", but I am an author of other software and non-software works and thus think about these issues as a fellow creator.

This is the divide that Michael Geist was hinting at, and that ACTRA (and by retweeting, the Writers Guild) have thus far refused to acknowledge.  Until they acknowledge and become part of the solution, they will remain part of the problem.  While it may not be about money for the fans who are being deterred or outright blocked from accessing and paying for this content, it becomes about money for the screenwriters and actors whose decisions are harming their own pocketbooks.

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