Thursday, November 29, 2007

Word from the WGA

Contract 2007 Negotiations Statement

To Our Fellow Members,

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.

Best,

Patric M. Verrone
President, WGAW

Michael Winship
President, WGAE

*******

For more information about the Writers Guild of America, West, please visit www.wga.org. For more information about the Writers Guild of America, East, please visit: www.wgaeast.org.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) represent writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable, and new media industries in both entertainment and news. The unions conduct numerous programs, seminars, and events throughout the world on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers.

See also this from United Hollywood.

4 comments:

ProgGrrl said...

UH OH. This doesn't sound good. Time to brush off my list of TV series I want to rent from Netflix. They are gonna make a KILLING this winter.

"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."

UNBELIEVABLE. AMPTP is haggling over the equivalent of the cost of a single tentpole feature film - to keep the stable of content creators for the entire business paid for 3 years?

I hope Marc Andreessen and his VC buddies have their checkbooks ready.

Logan Gawain said...

It's not good news, and I'm a huge pessimist, but it is interesting that talks are set to continue on Tuesday. While the WGA clearly doesn't like the newest offer, Nikki Finke of DHD is reporting that the WGA is waiting for the other half of the offer. That must be related to the EST (electronic sell through) proposal a lawyer named Ken Ziffren is working on. All along the AMPTP has wanted ESTs like iTunes downloads to have same residual rate of DVDs, basically 4 cents. The writers wanted DVDs increased to 8 cents, and wanted downloads to be the 2.5% residual like they get from a second network broadcast. (Though many shows don't have second network broadcasts, shows like Lost and 24 don't do network repeats anymore.)

If this Ziffren guy comes up with something approaching what the writers are after, then this could get solved. Ziffren represents the DGA in their upcoming negotiations with AMPTP.

And whatever the writers get, the actors are going to get as well, just more so. (Don't the actors get something like 12 cents per dvd, vs. the writers 4 cents?) So, how all this impacts on SAG/AMPTP talks and DGA/AMPTP talks complicates matters.

I guess the world waits on whatever Ken Ziffren comes up with.

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