Panel: Writers in the digital age



NEW YORK -- How writers and media companies make money in the digital age was among the topics of debate here Tuesday in a panel discussion organized by New York Women in Film & Television as part of the organization's 30th anniversary events.

"The challenge is how does anybody start to get paid for all of this?" said Linda Kaplan Thaler, the CEO and chief creative officer of advertising and entertainment company Kaplan Thaler Group. "There's all this lost revenue, and there's the writers complaining, rightly so, everybody's reading this stuff and everybody's listening to all our jokes and we're not getting extra money for it."

When the inevitable topic of the writer's strike came up directly, moderator Megan Cunningham, CEO of interactive media firm Magnet Media, decided to move on instead. "It's too important of an issue frankly to do just surface justice to right now," she argued. "It affects everybody in this room, including the people on this panel."

But the challenge of how companies can best turn new media into profit was one key theme that came up during the panel discussion on "The future of content delivery."

David Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS, discussed the recent advertising efforts on social networking site Facebook.

"Nobody seems to be worried about the fact that when you actually start putting advertising on Facebook, Facebook becomes something other that what it was that attracted people to it in the first place," Poltrack said.

He reiterated his mantra that broadcast television isn't going bankrupt any time soon.

"The real threat to broadcast television is just bad programming," he said. "Creativity is going to keep the network television experience differentiated."

Content owners and distributors in the digital age, of course, also face a challenge in bringing content to new screens, such as the mobile phones, to serve younger audiences.

"We want to be everywhere where this generation is because they are mobile," said Diane Robina, president of Comcast Emerging Networks. "We're trying to figure out how do you make content for someone who's sitting 24 inches in front of this screen."