Skip to main content

Bound By Distribution Chains

The Independent Film & TV Alliance is creating a series of Web videos to try and build support for their efforts to convince Washington to carve some space for independent productions out of what they say are distibution chains effectively locked up by consolidated media.

If the first video, “bound,” is any indication, they have taken the gloves off. The first punch is aimed squarely at Time Warner and combines some of the fear factor of the Goldwater nuclear disaster ad with the Big Brother feel of that 1984 Apple ad taking aim–literally–at IBM.

It features a team of executives–only their hands at tabletop level are shown–talking about how to cross-promote a film, “a star-driven legal techno action-thriller drama…with a heart,” which they describe as “typical Warner Bros.” That converstaion includes getting print products to hawk it and dealing the rights to co-owned media properties. It ends with a disturbing image of a child bound to a chair by what looks like coaxial cable tagged every foot or so with the name of a Time Warner property logo–CNN, HBO, AOL, TBS, CW, WB. The sound of a heartbeat mixes with a cacophany of executive voices talking about how to get consumers to focus on the film by essentially making it inescapable. Male hands then come from behind the child’s head to grab it and force it to watch the TV screen when he/she (it could be either) tries to look away from the flickering images.

“Media CoOnsolidation: You are free to Watch What We Own” is the on-screen graphic that closes the piece, followed by a lengthy scroll of Time Warner’s media properties.

IFTA has long lamented the death of the financial interest and syndication rules, which prevented networks from owning a financial interest in the domestic syndication revenes of their off-net shows.

IFTA has called for a 25% carve-out from network and cable prime for independent productions saying that while independent programming accounted for 50% of prime time TV in 1995, that number was down to 18%.

The “Bound” video has been posted on the IFTA-created Web site, which it soft launched at the end of last year. The video is also on YouTube, Veoh and Myspace.

Look for the next video in a couple of weeks, according to an IFTA spokesman, who said the video was created by Eric Faden, who teaches at Bucknell. The voices do sound like college students (and the hands of the actors (their faces are never seen) are obviouly young people. They also mistakenly call it Court TV when it is now TruTV, and refer to cable and broadcast networks as “stations,” but then again so do a lot of people on Capitol Hill.