Strike Talks in Hiatus Until Tuesday

Posted on November 29, 2007

Day four of the restarted negotiations ended with the writers asking for a hiatus until Tuesday, so that they can consider the AMPTP's latest proposal. Unfortunately, the new and exciting proposal is anything but that. Patrick Verrone just sent this letter to members explaining what happened.

Here is an excerpt from Verrone's letter:
From 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, I felt it was essential to update you accurately on where negotiations stood. 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.
Verrone also says, "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."

Is the AMPTP just throwing this out there as a negotiating tactic? Because they can't really think writers will actually accept a rollback on residuals so they get even less than they do now? Perhaps on Tuesday the WGA should up their demands substantially, because apparently the studios think it's a game of chicken.

Meanwhile, advertisers are not happy that all the new scripted shows are coming to an end. And that has to have the AMPTP worried, no matter what they say.