WGA-AMPTP contract talks resume



The Writers Guild of America (WGA) will resume contract negotiations with network and studio representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television (AMPTP) producers today. There is hope-even last week CBS Corp. was warm to the new talks, sending out emails before Thanksgiving to staffers. CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves said that while they still have substantial differences, "We continue to believe that with hard work, patience and understanding from both sides, they can be overcome."

Warner Bros. reportedly sent out a similar email to its staffers: "The resumption of talks is very welcome news indeed to everyone in our business. We are all, producers and writers alike, looking forward to an end to this strike and realize that there’s no way it can be resolved unless both sides are talking."

However, Moonves also said in the email CBS won’t make a deal that doesn’t make financial sense: "Suffice it to say that while we are committed to hammering out a fair deal with our WGA members, CBS cannot make an agreement that places our company at a disadvantage or makes it impossible for us to meet our commitments to our many constituencies-other employees, shareholders, advertisers, the producers with whom we work and the public that these days is constantly redefining the way they experience our programming. The producing organizations and the writers who are so integral to our business are both facing the same challenge. We live in a new-media world, and all of us must wrestle with the 21st century realities of our business. Going forward, we must work together to craft a new contract that is fair and keeps our business strong."

Said WGA chief Patric Verrone in a letter to members: "We have proven that bad news won’t slow us down. Now it is equally important that we now prove that good news won’t slow us down, either. We must remember that returning to the bargaining table is only a start. Our work is not done until we achieve a good contract and that is by no means assured. Accordingly, what we achieve in negotiations will be a direct result of how successfully we can keep up our determination and resolve."

Verrone last week launched the afternoon march down Hollywood Boulevard (see related story) with the comment: "75 years ago, 10 writers met at the Knickerbocker Hotel near here to form a union with teeth. We are here today to show our teeth. What that means is that we’re here to walk down Hollywood Boulevard and smile."