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StrikeWatch: Day 26

Welcome to the 26th day of the WGA strike here in Hollywood. I had hoped better news would spill out of the talks held this week between the WGA and the AMPTP but, now that the media blackout has been lifted and the AMPTP's "groundbreaking" proposal has seen the light of day, it's not at all what anyone supporting the writers had hoped for.

The AMPTP offered the following official statement:

"The AMPTP today unveiled a New Economic Partnership to the WGA, which includes groundbreaking moves in several areas of new media, including streaming, content made for new media and programming delivered over digital broadcast channels. The entire value of the New Economic Partnership will deliver more than $130 million in additional compensation above and beyond the more than $1.3 billion writers already receive each year. In response, the WGA has asked for time to study the proposals. While we strongly preferred to continue discussions, we respect and understand the WGA's desire to review the proposals. We look forward to resuming talks on Tuesday, December 4.

We continue to believe that there is common ground to be found between the two sides, and that our proposal for a New Economic Partnership offers the best chance to find it."

The proposal on offer would deliver more than $130 million in compensation to writers over three years. However, the WGA, looking at the numbers involved, have countered by saying that the proposal is a "massive rollback" and a "bad deal." It should be noted that the proposal amounts to a mere 3% increase in earnings.

The WGA countered with its own statement, the full text of which can be read here.

According to Variety, the three key issues are:
"-For streaming television episodes, the companies proposed a residual structure of a single fixed payment, based on 1.2% of producers' receipts after a six-week promo window, amounting about $250 for a year's reuse of an hour-long program.
-For made-for-Internet material, they offered minimums starting at $800 for five minutes up to $1,300 for 15 minutes and granted jurisdiction on derivative material.
-No change in the Internet download formula, currently paid at the DVD rate."
Meanwhile, United Hollywood reacted to the AMPTP's proposal in their own way, via a tersely-worded statement that belied their frustration with the rollbacks:
"Turns out their exciting, groundbreaking proposal is... a residual rollback. And not just any rollback, one of the biggest in the history of the Guild. Then, stunningly, the companies have the balls to say their plan gives us more compensation. Well, I'm sorry, but If you take away a dollar and give me a nickel, the nickel ain't a raise. Somewhere, Nick Counter's first-grade math teacher is embarrassed.

So we decided to do some math of our own: We broke out the cost of the WGA's current proposal to the conglomerates into yearly figures. We found that the TOTAL payment yearly -- the total that ALL the companies would make under our proposals -- is $50.54 million. And that, we realized, is about one-third the budget of TRANSFORMERS. We are asking IN TOTAL, for the equivalent of the cost overrun on a summer event movie."

Anyone hoping that the talks this week would lead to a fair and equitable contract between the AMPTP and the WGA is sorely disappointed. So much for those "groundbreaking" proposals that the studios hinted at.

One positive sign: the disastrous offer didn't end the talks between the two parties (as I feared it might); instead they'll reconvene on Tuesday to continue negotiations.

Meanwhile, picketing continues at the studios, which are hard pressed at debating whether or not to go ahead with planned holiday parties this season, just a day after another WGA picketer was struck by a car. Hmm, maybe those party-planning budgets could be better spent by paying salaries and benefits below-the-line staffers who lost their jobs during the strike without so much as severance during the holiday season. Just a thought.

Earlier this week, many showrunners returned to work to focus on performing non-writing services, such as editing and supervising post-production. One report claims that one studio exec claimed that half of his series' showrunners were back at work. Over at Disney/ABC Television that group included Lost's Carlton Cuse, who returned to work following an agreement in place to return to his duties once talks restarted again.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said…
This is so disappointing. I was really hoping that some progress would be made this week. At least they're still talking but it looks like both sides are being stubborn. I wish that instead of focusing on their egos they could think about all of the people who are out of work because of this right now and come up with a fair deal.
Anonymous said…
I wish they would cancel our holiday party.

Wait - did I say that out loud?

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