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THURSDAY PM UPDATE: I’m told WGA negotiators are still waiting for the other “half” of the AMPTP’s Day #4 new proposals (the half that presumably contains the missing terms on ESTs, electronic sell-throughs?) which agent Bryan Lourd said should be in their hands by Tuesday if not before. Then the writers will make a counter-offer to producers on Tuesday. Here’s the WGA West and East email to members critical of today’s New Media offers by the AMPTP on streaming, content made for new media, and programming delivered over digital broadcast channels:

To Our Fellow Members,
After four days of bargaining with the AMPTP, we are writing to let you know that, though we are still at the table, the press blackout has been lifted.

Our inability to communicate with our members has left a vacuum of information that has been filled with rumors, both well intentioned and deceptive.

Among the rumors was the assertion that the AMPTP had a groundbreaking proposal that would make this negotiation a “done deal.” In fact, for the first three days of this week, the companies presented in essence their November 4 package with not an iota of movement on any of the issues that matter to writers.

Thursday morning, the first new proposal was finally presented to us. It dealt only with streaming and made-for-Internet jurisdiction, and it amounts to a massive rollback.

For 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 $1,300. 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, we felt it was essential to update you accurately on where negotiations stand. 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.

For Sony, this entire deal would cost $1.68 million per year. For Disney $6.25 million. Paramount and CBS would each pay about $4.66 million, Warner about $11.2 million, Fox $6.04 million, and NBC/Universal $7.44 million. MGM would pay $320,000 and the entire universe of remaining companies would assume the remainder of about $8.3 million per year. As we’ve stated repeatedly, our proposals are more than reasonable and the companies have no excuse for denying it.

The AMPTP’s intractability is dispiriting news but it must also be motivating. Any movement on the part of these multinational conglomerates has been the result of the collective action of our membership, with the support of SAG, other unions, supportive politicians, and the general public.  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.

Patric M. Verrone, President, WGAW
Michael Winship, President, WGAE

UPDATE: Here’s the AMPTP official statement from Talks Day #4:

LOS ANGELES, November 29, 2007 – “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 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.”

EXCLUSIVE BULLETIN: The AMPTP presented what its sources just told me are “a number of New Media proposals” today at Talks Day #4. strike-talks-day4.jpg“This is the day it shook loose,” a relieved insider just told me minutes ago. (This is also what I was reporting in my explusive post, Moguls Supposed To Present A Better Offer To Writers At Talks Today.) I’ve learned the AMPTP presented the WGA with “new terms involving streaming, made-for, Internet, and other issues”. The networks and studios are claiming that WGA requested a suspension in the talks until Tuesday December 4th to study the new proposals. My sources say this came as something of a surprise to the moguls’ side because their negotiating team was “ready to keep bargaining through the weekend”. On the other hand, the AMPTP side finally presented the terms with so much fanfare that it really surprised the WGA negotiators who’d been increasingly doubful they’d ever see anything new. But let’s not be overly optimistic or naive, either. The big questions now are: Are these truly “new” proposals or just newly packaged ”old” proposals? And are they good enough to get this strike settled by Christmas?
Let’s hope…

  1. Moguls Supposed To Present A Better Offer To Writers At Talks Today
  2. Talks Day #3 ‘Stalemated’
  3. Talks Day #2 Still Friendly But Unproductive; “Game Of Chicken”
  4. Talks Day #1 Productive; “Reasonableness Ruled The Day”
  5. Dare We Hope A Deal Has Been Struck…?
  6. Talks Restarted At Agent Bryan Lourd’s Home After Weeks Of Quiet Backchannel
  7. LET’S STRIKE A DEAL! Both Sides Agree To Go Back Into Talks

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