Writers Strike Update

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The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) returned to the negotiation table on Monday for another four days of discussions. Earlier this week, rumors claimed that a deal had already been struck, but the latest developments today show that there are still many disagreements.

Both the AMPTP and the WGA released statements on Thursday after a news blackout for the first three days of discussions, and it clearly shows that they are not on the same page.

First up, the AMPTP:

The AMPTP today unveiled a New Economic Partnership to the WGA, which includes groundbreaking moves in several areas of new media, including streaming, content made for new media and programming delivered over digital broadcast channels. The entire value of the New Economic Partnership will deliver more than $130 million in additional compensation above and beyond the more than $1.3 billion writers already receive each year. In response, the WGA has asked for time to study the proposals. While we strongly preferred to continue discussions, we respect and understand the WGA’s desire to review the proposals. We look forward to resuming talks on Tuesday, December 4.

We continue to believe that there is common ground to be found between the two sides, and that our proposal for a New Economic Partnership offers the best chance to find it.

The WGA sent out the following the following to its members:

To Members of the Writers Guilds East and West,

After four days of bargaining with the AMPTP, we are writing to let you know that, though we are still at the table, the press blackout has been lifted.

Our inability to communicate with our members has left a vacuum of information that has been filled with rumors, both well intentioned and deceptive

Among the rumors was the assertion that the AMPTP had a groundbreaking proposal that would make this negotiation a “done deal.” In fact, for the first three days of this week, the companies presented in essence their November 4 package with not an iota of movement on any of the issues that matter to writers.

Thursday morning, the first new proposal was finally presented to us. It dealt only with streaming and made-for-Internet jurisdiction, and it amounts to a massive rollback.

For streaming television episodes, the companies proposed a residual structure of a single fixed payment of less than $250 for a year’s reuse of an hour-long program (compared to over $20,000 payable for a network rerun). For theatrical product they are offering no residuals whatsoever for streaming.

For made-for-Internet material, they offered minimums that would allow a studio to produce up to a 15-minute episode of network-derived web content for a script fee of $1300. They continued to refuse to grant jurisdiction over original content for the Internet.

In their new proposal, they made absolutely no move on the download formula (which they propose to pay at the DVD rate), and continue to assert that they can deem any reuse “promotional,” and pay no residual (even if they replay the entire film or TV episode and even if they make money).

The AMPTP says it will have additional proposals to make but, as of Thursday evening, they have not been presented to us. We are scheduled to meet with them again on Tuesday.

In the meantime, we felt it was essential to update you accurately on where negotiations stand. On Wednesday we presented a comprehensive economic justification for our proposals. Our entire package would cost this industry $151 million over three years. That’s a little over a 3% increase in writer earnings each year, while company revenues are projected to grow at a rate of 10%. We are falling behind.

For Sony, this entire deal would cost $1.68 million per year. For Disney $6.25 million. Paramount and CBS would each pay about $4.66 million, Warner about $11.2 million, Fox $6.04 million, and NBC/Universal $7.44 million. MGM would pay $320,000 and the entire universe of remaining companies would assume the remainder of about $8.3 million per year. As we’ve stated repeatedly, our proposals are more than reasonable and the companies have no excuse for denying it.

The AMPTP’s intractability is dispiriting news but it must also be motivating. Any movement on the part of these multinational conglomerates has been the result of the collective action of our membership, with the support of SAG, other unions, supportive politicians, and the general public. We must fight on, returning to the lines on Monday in force to make it clear that we will not back down, that we will not accept a bad deal, and that we are all in this together.

In Solidarity,

Michael Winship
President
Writers Guild of America, East

Patric M. Verrone
President
Writers Guild of America, West

Will it all end before the holidays? Stay tuned…