At long last, the nearly 100-day strike looks to be over: WGA members got a joint memo early Saturday morning from WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship outlining a tentative agreement with AMPTP. Members were assured the actual agreement which says it "protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery."
The memo came before Saturday’s night’s meeting for members at the Shrine Auditorium in LA, where WGA West leaders told the crowd of member scribes that the WGA West board and WGA East council will convene at a press conference Sunday to formally recommend the deal for ratification, and to approve a 48-hour vote among members about whether to end the strike.
At the press conference were Verrone, WGA West exec director David Young, WGA’s negotiations committee chairman John Bowman and Winship.
Verrone disclosed plans for the 48-hour vote — which would include voting by fax or by attending a meeting on Tuesday. Members won’t be able to vote by mail.
If the vote to end the strike happens in favor, WGA members could go back to work on Wednesday. The boards are also expected to begin the process of a ratification vote for members to formally seal the new three-year contract with AMPTP.
The tentative deal will cover the resumption of work through May 1, 2011.
Minimum rates generally increase 3.5% each year. The exceptions are: network prime time rates and daytime serial script fees increase 3.0% each period; program fees and the upset price increase once by 3% in the second year; and clip fees increase once by 5% in the third year.
Some of the details:
Writing for Made-for New Media: Coverage: The WGA is recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative for writing for new media (such as Internet or cellular technology). Writing for new media is covered by the Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) if:
(1) it is written by a “professional writer” (anyone with a single TV or screen credit, 13 weeks of employment in TV, film or radio, a professionally produced stage play credit or a published novel) or
(2) the program is derivative of an MBA-covered program or
(3) if the budget is above any of three thresholds: 15,000 dollars per minute; 300,000 dollars per program; or 500,000 dollars per series order. If initially not covered due to the projected budget but later costs exceed a threshold, the program/series is covered retroactively.
Compensation: If a new media program is derivative of an MBA-covered program, minimums for initial compensation apply. The minimum for derivative dramatic programs is 618 dollars for programs up to two minutes, plus 309 dollars for each additional minute. The minimum for derivative comedy-variety and daytime serials is 360 dollars for programs up to two minutes, plus 180 dollars for each additional minute. The minimum for all other types of derivative programs is 309 dollars for programs up to two minutes, plus 155 dollars for each additional minute. Regardless of the length of the program initial compensation can be no less than the two minute rate. For original programs initial compensation is negotiable.
Credits: The Guild shall determine credits on all covered new media programs. Credits must appear on-screen (or on a link to the program) if anyone else receives such credit.
Television Reuse: If a covered new media program is reused in traditional media, the usual residuals for a television program apply with minor modifications.
Separated Rights: Creators of original new media material are protected as follows:
(1) If you create an Internet program that becomes a TV series or feature film which you write, traditional separated rights apply.
(2) If you write original material for an Internet program and the Company wants to use it for a TV series or feature film to be written by someone else, the Company must purchase rights from you. The Company may acquire the rights at any time, but separate compensation must be paid. If you want to sell those rights to another studio, the Company has a right of first refusal.
(3) If you create an Internet program that is the equivalent of a traditional TV series (over 25,000 per minute and 20 minutes in length) you are entitled to the same rights as in (2) above, plus sequel payments for each Internet episode based on your program.
Internet Residuals: Initial compensation covers writing services and 13 weeks of availability in new media when the viewer does not pay, and 26 weeks of availability in new media when the viewer pays. After those periods, certain residuals are payable: (i) if a new media program derived from an MBA-covered program or an original new media program with a budget higher than 25,000 per minute is reused in new media, the new media reuse provisions described below apply, except that electronic sell-through is paid at 1.2% of distributor’s gross receipts; and (ii) for original new media programs, the residual for ad-supported streaming is negotiable, while reuse where the viewer pays is compensated at 1.2% of distributor’s gross receipts.
Reuse in New Media:
Distributor’s Gross Receipts: All revenue-based residuals in new media employ a definition of “distributor’s gross” which eliminates the accounting uncertainty inherent in the concept of “producer’s gross” as found in the home video/DVD formula.
Download Rentals: If the viewer pays for limited new media access to a program, residuals are paid at the rate of 1.2% of distributor’s gross receipts.
Download Sales (Electronic Sell-Through): If the viewer pays for permanent use of the program, residuals are paid at 0.36% of distributor’s gross receipts for the first 100,000 downloads of a television program and the first 50,000 downloads of a feature. After that, residuals are paid at 0.7% of distributor’s gross receipts for television programs and 0.65% for feature films.
Theatrical Ad-Supported Streaming: Ad-supported streaming of feature films produced after July 1, 1971 is payable at 1.2% of distributor’s gross receipts.
Television Ad-Supported Streaming (Library): Ad-supported streaming of television programs produced after 1977 (and a small number produced prior to 1977) are payable at 2% of distributor’s gross receipts.
Television Ad-Supported Streaming (New Programs): Ad-supported streaming of television programs is payable at 2% of distributor’s gross receipts one year from the end of an initial streaming window.
Initial Streaming Window: There is an initial window of 17 days (24 days for episodes of the first season of a series and one-off television programs) with no residual.
This window must include or occur contiguous to the initial television exhibition.
Residual Payment (Network Prime): In the first and second years of this contract, after the initial window, for network prime time television programs, a fixed residual of 3% of the residual base (“applicable minimum”) is paid for each of up to two 26-week periods. For an hour program, this fee is 654 dollars per period in the first year of the contract; 677 dollars per period in the second year. For a half-hour the figures are 360 dollars and 373 dollars. In the third year of this contract, the 2% of distributor’s gross formula is applied immediately after the initial streaming window. The contract sets an imputed value for up to 26 weeks of such distributor’s gross at 40,000 dollars for an hour program and 20,000 dollars for a half hour program. So, for the third year the formula pays a residual of 800 dollars for an hour program and 400 dollars for a half hour program for each potential 26-week period in the year after the initial streaming window. If the Network’s exclusivity expires prior to one year after the end of the initial window, the 2% of distributor’s gross receipts begins without the imputed value. In the case of a 26-week period being truncated by the end of the year after the end of the initial streaming window, the payment is prorated.
Residual Payment (All Other Programs): After the initial streaming window, a fixed residual of 3% of the residual base (the “applicable minimum”) is paid for each of up to two 26-week periods in the first two years of this contract. In the third year of this contract, the payment rate rises to 3.5% of the residual base.