That Old Union Zest

If you work for a U.S.-based media company, you have to be inspired by the employees of the BBC. In response to the company-wide job cuts of 4,000 people over the next three years, the company's entire work staff went on strike for one day.

It's kind of nostalgic to think media companies are like steel companies or automobile companies of years ago - that the slightest whim of change can bring about unity.

Does anyone think that could happen these days at Viacom? Or at Walt Disney? Or at News Corp? Not really.

Imagine if Viacom employees walked off the job because Viacom decided to kill a show like "Listen Up" on CBS. What if Viacom employees staged a walkout because they disagreed with management over forcing those CBS News' reporters and editors -- in connection with the Dan Rather/Mary Mapes controversy -- to resign?



All this comes from the fun, but not realistic economic theory that companies are made up of thousands of people who seemingly have control over their destiny. No, that doesn't happen. People from the current programming department at NBC Entertainment don't walk off their jobs because the number of distribution staffers at Universal Pictures was trimmed back.

Media employees - as a whole -- don't band together these days because everyone has individual contracts and deals. They don't have unity because they are spending the better part of their day climbing over each other to get ahead. Sure there are unions at the networks, but they don't seem to have much teeth.

In London, BBC picketers carried signs that said, "Fight for our BBC." If the management at media companies really wants employees to pull together for their greater good, perhaps they need a bigger sense of unity like those at the BBC.

If you are management at the big U.S. media conglomerates, you'd want that same zest, you'd want your employees to hold signs saying, "Fight for our ABC" or "Fight for our NBC."

Yesterday's TV Watch, "The Guessing Game," should have stated that the new Thursday night drama "Commander in Chief" starring Geena Davis will appear on ABC. We regret the error.

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