During the “laboratory period” of 1948-1952, the TV industry was able to get a taste of what independence really was. The main production that changed what the TV industry is today was Desilu, co-owned by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, who created “I Love Lucy”.
This production company was able to get the freedom for a TV industry to the equivalent of what you would see now in the film industry. The production company was able to set the bar of how much freedom a company could have. Yet, after this set period the network industries got organized and limited the freedom of many TV productions.
The thing that really shocked me about how much power and independence Arnaz had in the TV industry back then, was when he asked CBS to “let Desilu have full ownership of [I Love Lucy] after its initial network showing, instead of the original agreement of a fifty-fifty split between CBS and Desilu”, and of course CBS agreed. Now you don’t really see this now, even in the film industry. Many productions sometimes ask their directors to change things from the movie and not the other way around. Yet, they had the control when it came to this series. An example of this was when Miramax asked Soderbergh to change his trailer, but in the end Miramax took full control of the advertisement.
Another difference between this company and a film production would be the amount of money that goes into the set work. For instance “I Love Lucy” had a set budget of $19,500 per episode, but because CBS wanted the “live-audience” dimension, they agreed to give more money out, pushing the budget to $24,500 per episode. With this it could be seen that financially the series was well. Now compare this to a film production, where the director is given a budget and has to abide to it, unless it can find extra funds outside of its production company.
One of the similarities that you can actually see for both Desilu and a film industry now is the freedom that they have to be creative, Arnaz even said it himself. The only reason he wanted to take full control of the series was to be in total control of the way the series would go, creative wise. As for the film producers, well that is the main reason that they decide to create an indie film.
For both the film and TV industries it seems as if they switched roles in independence over the past few decades. With TV productions having to loose much of its freedom and independent film industries gaining demand.