WGA strike officially on

0

WGA STRIKE CENTRAL Day 1


The federal mediator involved in contract talks between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) worked with negotiators yesterday starting at 10AM in a last-ditch effort, however was unable to stop the inevitable strike that the WGA voted for on Friday and authorized to begin at midnight last night. John Wells, WGA’s ex-president, was also brought in to try and broker a deal at the 11th hour, but to no avail. Picket lines would go up in LA and New York City. About 300 strike captains/guild members will serve as leaders on the picket lines.

On Thursday, AMPTP President Nick Counter stated no further progress can be made because of the WGA’s continuing efforts to substantially increase the DVD formula.  "By the WGA leadership’s actions at the bargaining table, we are not surprised by tonight’s recommendation.  We are ready to meet and are prepared to close this contract this weekend. We are ready to meet at any time and remain committed to reaching a fair and reasonable deal that keeps the industry working, but the DVD issue is a roadblock to these negotiations."

Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg joined the Negotiating Committee onstage to voice his union’s support of writers.
The key issue involves changing the formula for paying writers a share of DVD revenue, then applying the same equation to money made from material offered over the Internet and mobile platforms.

As it stands now (old contact), the WGA agreed to ignore the first 80% of revenue from the tapes and later DVDs, assuming most of the money represented the cost of manufacturing and distribution. Writers settled for 1.2% of the remaining 20%, which amounts to about 3 cents on a DVD that sells for 20 dollars.
WGA wants their share to be calculated on 40% of revenue and argue the same formula should be used for digital distribution because of the low costs to distribute electronically. Writers demands are estimated at 2.5 cents on every hundred dollars the studios/networks make on their content.
Studios could generate about 158 million from selling movies online and about 194 million from selling TV shows online, according to an AP story.
The first to be affected will be late-night talk shows, which will may off the air almost immediately since they rely so heavily on writers for their jokes. On his CBS show on Thursday, David Letterman said the producers were "cowards, cutthroats and weasels."

TVBR/RBR observation: If all the unions in LA were stand in unison with the WGA, it would be over quickly. However, unions like the DGA and SAG have a no-strike clause in their contracts-the Teamsters don’t. So SAG and DGA folks could be fired if they strike in unity. The SAG contract is up in June-a long way away.

The strike is also over future residuals, not just current ones. A year ago, some may have watched House on TV, but this year they might watch it on DVD. In two years, viewers might only watch it online. AMPTP wants writers to only earn residuals if House is aired on broadcast TV. They don’t get much of DVD sales and get nothing on the online view. So we’ve heard the WGA estimates that as technology moves forward more and more to online and mobile video viewing, writers’ residual income will drop by some 80%. We really have to say the writers are pretty much right on this one. The studios should be willing to budge.
so over future residuals, not just current ones. A year ago, some may have watched House on TV, but this year they might watch it on DVD. In two years, viewers might only watch it online. AMPTP wants writers to only earn residuals if House is aired on broadcast TV. They don’t get much of DVD sales and get nothing on the online view. So we’ve heard the WGA estimates that as technology moves forward more and more to online and mobile video viewing, writers’ residual income will drop by some 80%. We really have to say the writers are pretty much right on this one. The studios should be willing to budge.

 


SHARE
Previous articlePick your generation
Next articleTriton Media Group buys Excelsior in surprise deal
RBR+TVBR has been reporting on the business of broadcasting for nearly three decades. Beholden to no one, it is independently owned.