Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Latest News on the WGA Strike

The Associated Press (AP) released a story on Wednesday, indicating that the logjam preventing further talks between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) seems to have been broken.

The WGA and the AMPTP released a joint statement on Tuesday saying they would begin informal talks today in an effort to end the almost three-month WGA strike.

ABC reported on Wednesday morning that the WGA said it would not picket the Grammy Awards ceremony on February 10th. However, no such announcement relating to the Academy Awards on February 24th was forthcoming.

The hopeful signs come after the Directors Guild of America (DGA) reached tentative agreement with the studio heads. The model of holding "informal" discussions prior to the "formal" negotiations apparently was one that worked successfully
during those talks.

Discussions between the WGA and the AMPTP broke down on December 7th when the studios demanded that the writers stop insisting on unionizing writers working on reality and animation shows.

According to the AP:

The [writers] guild agreed Tuesday to withdraw those two issues to "make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations," union executives Michael Winship and Patric Verrone said in an e-mail letter to members. But organizing efforts for guild representation in those genres will continue and will be discussed more fully in the next two weeks, said Winship and Verrone, presidents of the East Coast and West Coast guilds, respectively.

It's no secret that the writers believe they made a bad deal in their last contract. The Guild underestimated the value of the Internet as a medium for entertainment. Their goal in these negotiations is to obtain improved rights in the new media arena.

The AP reports:

The studio executives said the [DGA] deal established a precedent for the industry's creative talent to "participate financially in every emerging area of new media."

The directors won several key contract points, including union jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet and payments for downloaded TV programs and movies based on a percentage of the distributor's gross.

But the writers guild was seeking 2.5 percent of such grosses - about three times what the directors' deal provides.

Stay tuned . . .

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