1/17/2008

As We All Wait For Analysis

We're trying to get our hands on the deal document, which will be much more detailed than the DGA's official deal summary. There may be exceptions and special provisions (like the 100,000 unit breakpoint for television downloads and the 50,000 unit breakpoint for feature film downloads) that need to be examined more carefully. For example, in speaking about distributor's gross, the deal summary states:

Companies will be contractually obligated to give us access to their deals and data, enabling us to monitor this provision and prepare for our next negotiation. This access is new and unprecedented.

If the exhibitor or retailer is part of the producer's corporate family, we have improved provisions for challenging any suspect transactions.

As good as that sounds -- and it sounds really, really good -- we can't really evaluate what kind of teeth it has until we know what the structures and provisions they have in place actually are. Information we can only get from the more detailed document.

In short, we gotta get a look at all the fine print.

The next few days will no doubt be full of furious debate and discussion over every aspect of this deal. We'll continue updating as we get more, which we expect will be very soon. But the issues here are too important to rush to a conclusion about.

Stay tuned...

44 comments:

jimmy said...

Is there any assurance that the AMPTP will actually use this as a template?

Armin Miewes said...

Negotiations Update from DGA President Michael Apted
(Thursday, January 17, 2008)
DGA President
DGA President Michael Apted - click image for larger view
Michael Apted

Dear Member:

I am delighted to announce that this afternoon, the DGA reached an agreement with the AMPTP on the terms of a new Basic Agreement which is subject to ratification by the members. The agreement provides important gains that address our very real needs in the present while securing our place in the industry’s rapidly evolving digital future.

I am proud to report that the new agreement contains solid increases in wage rates for all categories, increases in the residual bases, continued security for our health plan, a number of increases that pertain to AD/UPM and AD/SM members and no rollbacks of any kind. Moreover, it includes substantial, precedent-setting gains in the key areas of new-media jurisdiction and compensation. That said, it is important to note that there was more at stake in this negotiation than simply wresting the best possible deal from an employer. Our fundamental goal was to protect our interests today while at the same time laying the groundwork for a future whose outlines are not yet clear. And we have done just that.

This was a very difficult negotiation that required real give and take on both sides. Nonetheless, we managed to produce an agreement that enshrines the two fundamental principles we regard as absolutely crucial to any employment and compensation agreement in this digital age:

* First, jurisdiction is essential. Without secure jurisdiction over new media, production—both derivative of existing programs and original—compensation formulas are meaningless.

* Second, the Internet is not free. We must receive fair compensation for the use and reuse of our work on the Internet, whether it was originally created for other media platforms or expressly for online distribution.

To these ends, the agreement includes the following:

* It secures for the first time DGA jurisdiction over programs (both derivative and original) produced for distribution on the Internet. This sets an important precedent for our Guild as well as for the industry as a whole. It means that we and the employers will enter the digital future as partners.

* It sets residuals formulas for EST (electronic sell-through or paid downloads) that essentially DOUBLE the rates the employers are currently paying.

+ (Employers are currently paying EST at the home video rate. We have now doubled that rate for EST.)

* It establishes ad-supported streaming rates where there were none before at all.

We entered these negotiations fully aware of the impact the current work stoppage is having on each of you as well as the industry as a whole. The 2007-08 television season has been truncated and the 2008 pilot season is hanging by a thread. Countless feature projects have been put on hold and tens of thousands of workers, both within the industry and in related fields, have lost their jobs. Out of respect for the writers, our creative partners with whom we work so closely, we delayed our negotiations long past their traditional starting point. We are stirred by their concerns and their passion, but with so much at stake—and the WGA and the AMPTP at an impasse after their talks broke down for the second time—we felt it was our responsibility to you and to our industry to act.

We are proud of the results we have achieved.

TENTATIVE 2008 AGREEMENT

With respect to increases in the current Basic Agreement we have secured the following:

* Annual wage increases.
* Annual residual base increases.
* Outsized increase in director’s compensation on high budget basic cable dramatic programs of 12% for series in their second and subsequent seasons.
* Series of important gains that solve long-standing issues for members in AD/UPM and AD/SM categories, including:
o Confirms the existing process of employing Second Assistant Directors to manage locations in New York and Chicago. This resolves a 40-year issue.
o Establishes a wrap supervision allowance of $50/day for the Second Assistant Director who supervises wrap on local and distant locations.
o Increases incidental fees and dinner allowances for Unit Production Managers and Assistant Directors.
* Continuation of specially-negotiated 8.5% health care contributions by employers, first established in 2005 Basic Agreement. Provisions permitting decrease in contribution by employers removed.

Please See Fact Sheet For More Details

With respect to new media we have achieved the following:

Jurisdiction

First, and most important, DGA has won jurisdiction over new media. This agreement ensures that programming produced for the Internet (both original and derivative) will be directed by DGA members and their teams. The only exceptions are low-budget original shows on which production costs are less than $15,000 per minute, $300,000 per program, or $500,000 per series—whichever is lowest. DGA members who wish to work in this arena will still be covered, subject to individual negotiation.

We carved out the low-budget exception for original content because we recognize that in order to evolve and grow, our industry’s involvement in Internet production will require the same kind of flexible approach the DGA has used so successfully in organizing independent films. It seemed most productive to promote experimentation and innovation by allowing the companies to employ emerging talent, who may be non-union, on extremely low-budget productions, while simultaneously securing DGA jurisdiction over all professional-level Internet productions. In this way, we are part of the growth of the medium—a course that is clearly in everyone’s long-term interest, not least our own.

Electronic Sell-Through (EST)

We achieved one of our biggest breakthroughs with electronic sell-through, the paid downloading of features and TV programming.

This agreement more than DOUBLES the EST residual for television and increases the feature film residual by 80% over the rate currently paid by the employers. Specifically, the EST residual rates will be .70% for television on sales above 100,000 units and .65% for film on sales above 50,000 units. Before they reach those break points (100,000 units for TV, 50,000 units for films), the residual payments rate will be .30% for all downloads until worldwide gross receipts reach $1 million and .36% thereafter. Once the film cap of 50,000 units or the TV cap of 100,000 units is achieved, the new higher EST rates will apply, regardless of whether or not gross receipts exceed $1 million.

We also obtained a critical provision that payments for EST will be based on distributor’s gross. This was an absolutely key issue for us in this negotiation—and a major victory. Distributor’s gross is the amount received by the entity responsible for distributing the film or television program on the Internet. Historically, our residuals formula has been based on distributor’s gross. This has enabled DGA over many years to accurately determine residuals owed to its members, a figure that totaled about $250 million in 2007. In this negotiation, the employers wanted to establish a different basis for new media residuals—paying us a percentage not of the distributor’s gross but of what the producer actually receives. Unfortunately, in this world of vertically integrated studios, the producer’s gross often amounts to zero. Securing distributor’s gross was crucial and we would not have entered this agreement on any other basis.

Equally important, the companies are now contractually obligated to give us unfettered access to their deals and data, enabling us to monitor this provision and prepare for our next negotiation. This access is new and unprecedented and creates a transparency that has never existed before.

Moreover, if the exhibitor or retailer is part of the producer’s corporate family, we have improved provisions for challenging any suspect transactions.

Ad-Supported Streaming

Before today’s agreement, the studios claimed that ad-supported streaming did not require payment. The DGA entered negotiations with an eye toward achieving a formula that would allow the companies a limited promotional window while still ensuring that our members were appropriately compensated for the streaming of their work.

Under the new agreement, a company has a 17-consecutive day window around the initial broadcast of an episode where it may stream the episode on the Internet without payment. (The window is expanded to 24 days during a program’s first season to help build an audience.) The 17-day period can take place before, during and after the broadcast date but may not extend beyond the 17th day after broadcast. If the company wishes to continue streaming after the 17-day window expires, it must pay 3% of the applicable residual base, or approximately $600 (for network prime time 1-hour dramas). This payment buys 26 weeks of streaming. At the end of the 26-week period, the company can continue to stream for an additional 26-week period by paying an additional 3% of the residual base. After this second 26-week cycle expires, the company must pay 2% of distributor's gross for ad-supported streaming.

This agreement provides DGA members with a residual worth $1,200 for a year’s worth of streaming, nearly five times what the companies last offered the WGA.

Sunset Provision

Finally, the deal contains a sunset provision that allows both sides to revisit new media when the agreement expires in light of the real world experience we will gain between now and then. While the conventional wisdom is that new media is a gold mine for the industry, our research shows it’s still too early to determine exactly how and when those riches will be tapped. With this in mind, we recognized the need for an agreement that would eventually allow us to adjust to the changing landscape rather than lock the DGA into a position that might end up hurting us.

This agreement is the result of nearly two years of hard work and extensive preparation. We held our first new media retreat with the DGA National Board back in 2006, around the same time that we engaged a group of respected consultants to analyze the issues. Our full Negotiations Committee met a total of 11 times over five months and our subcommittees continuously provided us with information on what was important to the members in each of our categories.

Although we were prepared months ago to sit down at the table with the companies, we waited to begin our negotiations until it was clear if talks between the WGA and the AMPTP had either reached a conclusion or hit a roadblock. At that point, we began laying the groundwork in earnest and ratcheted up the intensity of our informal discussions. Immediately after New Year’s Day, we called our full Negotiations Committee to Los Angeles and met with them until January 11th, when the committee voted unanimously to empower Gil and me to move forward with formal talks. Intense negotiations took place over the weekend and every day this week requiring long hours of work to hammer out this final deal.

Going forward, the Negotiations Committee will recommend to the National Board on January 26 that they approve this deal for ratification by all of you—the DGA members. At that point, we will send a ratification ballot to you.

One final note: All the research and preparation in the world are meaningless if you do not have at the table a negotiating team that is determined and relentless. In this, we were well- served by the 50 members of our Negotiations Committee. They represent the diverse nature, interests and geography of the full Guild membership and their presence at the negotiating table—as well as the months of preparatory work they put in—was crucial to our success. Our National Executive Director, Jay Roth, and the hard-working and dedicated DGA staff are equally deserving of our gratitude.

Finally, none of what we accomplished would have been possible without the leadership of our negotiating chair, Gil Cates, whose belief in this Guild and determination to preserve and extend its hard-won rights is unwavering.

We thank you sincerely for your support.

Sincerely,

Michael Apted
DGA President

Merry Jewess said...

good question. i was wondering the same thing

Sylvia said...

The LA Times, not surprisingly, slanted the story:
"that will now put pressure on Hollywood writers to revive talks."

Everyone at United Hollywood knows that the WGA has been willing and able to return to negotiations for 41 days. Reviving talks isn't up to us.

Bill said...

From amptp.ord today"
" We hope that this agreement with DGA will signal the beginning of the end of this extremely difficult period for our industry. Today, we invite the Writers Guild of America to engage with us in a series of informal discussions similar to the productive process that led us to a deal with the DGA to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for returning to formal bargaining. We look forward to these discussions, and to the day when our entire industry gets back to work."

It's a start - how about it WGA?

Matt Hollings said...

Looks good! So, I guess it's time to question the WGA's leadership. I mean if the DGA can get this accomplished...what happened to Patric Verrone & David Young? Do we need to replace them?

cory said...

Jimmy, The AMPTP dog-gone well better use that DGA deal as a template for dealing with the WGA and the SAG. After all that has gone on, we, the public, are expecting the AMPTP to do just that based on their earlier statements. If they do not, they will be exposed as dishonest and we, the public, will turn against them. Although, I am a little worried about the WGA leadership. I just read their statement on the WGA webpage and it said something like, "The AMPTP has dealt with the DGA, now they must come back to the table and deal with the WGA." I'm thinking, "Oh, please, get over yourselves." Sounds like egos running wild, to me. If the DGA deal is a good one and the AMPTP is willing to use it as a template for a deal with the WGA, the WGA should just take it. Yeah, the fact that the DGA could negotiate a better deal in less than a week than the WGA could negotiate in six months (and almost three months of a strike) makes the WGA a laughing-stock, but so what? Swallow your pride and get people back to work. And, uh, next time, let the directors handle the bargaining, ok?

Erik Oleson said...

The DGA has essentially punted the issue of New Media into the future... Or, at least, into our camp. This deal sucks. The companies get to stream an hour of network TV for a year for $1200? Is this a joke? Am I reading this wrong (please, God)? Isn't this the massive pay cut we were all fearing?

actorinsupport said...

matt and cory,
who are you? Have you been paying attention?
the WGA has been waiting for the AMPTP to return after having mind games played, lies spread and then being walked out on!
The leadership has done a good job and almost surely helped the DGA in their negotiations.
No matter what, people will try to paint the WGA as the 'bad guy' but it is NOT the case. How can it be when the WGA was willing to HONESTLY negotiate the entire time that they and I have been walking in circles holding signs.
pay attention to the facts please.

Jake Hollywood said...

The AMPTP group is going to open its books to the DGA, SAG, and the WGA???

That's...ummmmmm...really tough to believe.

Merry Jewess said...

People who now start critiquing Verrone's leadership and the WGA negotiating strategy as a whole are basically attaching AMPTP marionette strings to themselves and acting out the puppet show. This is what they want--for us (the WGA) to look stupid like this could have all been solved long ago...if only we could have bent over a little farther. The WGA was not treated the same way as the DGA and everyone knows it.

Thomas said...

Matt,
It may not be us questioning WGA leadership. It may just be that the strike has forced the studios hand. Who's to say that the AMPTP isn't just backing down. Hopefully this leads to something prosporous. This whole strike fiasco is affecting my TV watching. :) Good luck Fellas.

-Thomas

chris said...

re: cory's comment "let the directors handle the bargaining": read the fine print. This is EXACTLY the deal that WGA leadership has been fighting for. The WGA did the bargaining, and the DGA reaped the benefits.

DMc said...

Gawrsh, Matt. Shill for the AMPTP much?

Spike said...

sorry, but why does the fact that the DGA was able to make a deal make the WGA a laughing-stock? the DGA has always been willing to settle for less. and does anyone doubt that the strike pushed the studios to make concessions that they otherwise would not have made?

Eric said...

Hey Matt, keep in mind that there's absolutely no way the DGA would have gotten whatever deal they've negotiated without the WGA strike. Had they gone in early on their own, the AMPTP would have done what they always do -- tell the Directors where and when to bend over. Without a doubt, the WGA and the WGA leadership will have to take a public beating for "not being reasonable", but if that's the price we pay for setting the stage, then so be it. The studios needed this to be over, and needed to do it in a way that would "reward" non-strike activities. They are, effectively, our parents, and we were the "misbehaving" children. So blame Patric Verrone and David Young all you want -- but know that if it wasn't for them, and for the solidarity of the WGA and SAG, this DGA deal would not have happened.

C. A. Bridges said...

The DGA could get a better deal because the AMPTP was willing to talk to them. Had they offered this to the WGA two months ago - a complete deal was NEVER offered, only promised - the WGA might have something by now.

Of course, this is a better deal for the DGA, but not so much for the writers. It's up to the WGA, all of them, to decide if it's close enough or just a good starting point.

Jerry Monaco said...

On the offer for "informal talks": (First let me preface the below by saying I am a union supporter but not a WGA member. Nor do I work in the entertainment industry. I do fully support the writers' in this strike!)

The offer presents a bit of a double bind.

It is my belief that in most cases such discussions "should" be formal. The notion behind informal talks is that the "old boys" can sit together and come to an agreement. This is the unstated "ideal" of such a request. But what I think is behind this offer is:

1) A way to put the majors into a position that they are bargaining only over the things that they consider "real", i.e. what is in the DGA agreement. Informal talks along these lines are meant to exclude issues that are somehow "out of bounds" or "abnormal". In this case I would suppose these issues would include union solidarity clauses and organizing the unorganized. But it may also include such issues as the 17 day grace period for streaming on line. (That's a long time guys. As a fan I know that it is only during this space that I would think of looking at something on line. I would bet that practically all of the revenue comes during this period. But read the fine print!)

2) A way to make it so that breaking off talks in the future (if it comes to that) by the AMPTP won't take place publicly. The the conglomerate negotiators won't be seen by everybody walking away from the table. The biggest propaganda blow to the AMPTP was that they walked away. Informal talks are meant to guard against a repeat of this embarrassing possibility. Informal talks can just wind down without formal talks ever starting. Then the conglomerates can put their hands up and shrug, "Oh, this is not our fault."

All of this being said, it is difficult to refuse any kind of talks even if they are informal. I am only writing this so that people can understand the strategy behind this kind of proposal.

The WGA leadership will know this, and many of you guys and gals who have engaged in negotiations will know these tactics.

In Solidarity,

Jerry Monaco

T said...

Cory,
I think the reason that the DGA was able to make a quick deal is because the strike softened the AMPTP up. Our leadership had the toughest job because we were the first ones up to the plate. The strike has clarified the issues and our amazing solidarity. This will have made for a stronger guild in the end should things work out. On the contrary, I think it makes leadership look pretty smart since it appears the DGA got what we told them to go get. Part of the endgame for the AMPTP must have been to dump all the expensive development deals from their debt sheets. Time was the only thing that could solve that problem. If a industry-wide solution is afoot, why to they keep firing the little people and making huge deals with guys like Steve Jobs?? Finally, what does it mater who gets the credit for ending this in a positive way? This is no time to attack our leadership. This strike was and is about rage against the machine. It's about art verses commerce and for once perhaps, the quote a film, it was "The Mouse That Roared" who got the cheese. We can only hope. Now for the details...

craigd93 said...

The company line has been that the AMPTP was never serious about negotiating with us. Now that it appears that they might be, I just hope our squad doesn't make this personal. There's no "showing them" in this whole thing... It's about getting everyone back to work with a fair deal.

Crystal said...

Cory,

This is no time to be slinging mud around. The DGA may have never gotten this deal, assuming it's as good as it sounds, and I'm hoping it is, without the writers out there on the streets. And the DGA may never have gotten this deal if SAG hadn't been supporting the writers and if their contract impending expiration wasn't preventing movies from starting up now.

We are all in this together and it's time to hope that this deal looks good to everyone. It is not time to second guess how the WGA leadership is going to respond until they respond or to slander them until they have had time to respond.

Everyone has known for the last two months that the AMPTP might give the deal the writers wanted to the directors just so they could thumb their nose at the writers and say the writers were unreasonable. And all the writers I know don't really care if face gets saved that way as long as someone gets a deal everyone can be on board with.

It's time to be hopeful and it's time to wait until you hear what the leadership has to say about it, without putting your own words into their mouths. Then if they don't say what you want to hear, that's the time to speak up.

LJ said...

Replace Verrone & Young? Hey Matt, what did you want them to do? Take the $250 for a years worth of downloads? You seem misinformed on this...or maybe you're very informed and are just sitting in the AMPTP offices writing comments on writers blogs. The AMPTP set out from the beginning to humiliate the WGA. They said the WGA wouldn't meet with the AMPTP early, so Verrone and Young set up early meetings and AMPTP didn't show. The WGA has played every card correctly. The AMPTP has been the ones playing unfairly...that's why you see so many independent companies signing the WGA's reasonable offer.

Sage said...

Matt and Cory are just moles, probably paid by the AMPTP to come here and troll the comments.

As far as the deal goes, it sounds like they completely punted on New Media and the internet. I guess the directors figure it won't be a big moneymaker until after 2010 or 2011.

I think they are dead wrong. I can already stream movie rentals on Netflix and my Xbox. Blu-ray will be lucrative, but not nearly as much as DVD and VHS. Internet downloading of TV shows and films are going to jump big time starting in 2009.

Does the WGA have 3-year deals? I thought they lasted 5 years, in which case new media is a much bigger deal for us than the DGA.

scribeguy said...

I should have known the trolls would be some of the first to pounce on this with insults hurled at the WGA leadership. Just the fact that the strike captains who run this blog even ALLOWED such ridiculous comments shows how fair-minded they're trying to be. I won't even bother responding to them.

Here's a quick reaction to the deal from a writer's POV, and one I believe will be shared by an overwhelming majority of actors.
1) The jurisdiction and verification parts of the DGA deal are very promising, and essential for any further bargaining.
2) The fraction of one per cent for ESL's are extremely disappointing. The DGA missed a huge chance to use the leverage given them by the strike to bring those up to the standard 1.2 per cent in other areas that has insured industry peace and prosperity for decades.
3)The "streaming" agreement is an embarassment for the DGA. It's full of loopholes, qualifications, and, by my estimate STRIPS actors and writers of approximately 90% of their television residuals within five years...if not sooner. How is that NOT a robblback? And the amounts of time for free "promotional" use is completely out of whack.

3) The loophole allowing low budget Internet content to go without any DGA jurisdiction (unless a DGA member works on the project)should temper some of the euphoria over "establishing" jurisdiction here.
4) The 100,000 unit "breakpoint for ESL means, as I read it, that the first 100k will get the pathetic .3% pay. And remember, ESL's won't be going for $20 a pop...more like $5. Do the math here, and you're looking at an eventual 80% reduction in residual income for screenwriters as DVD's bite the bullet, entirely replaced by ESL's. How is that NOT a rollback?

5)The pitiful amount paid for "streaming" appears to actually go down after one year. Thus, an artist who worked on a popular show is actually penalized!

6) The "sunset" provision is a sop to the DGA which, in my opinion, means nothing. Once a business model is in place, it will take another strike to move the companies off it.

So, in my opinion, Gil Cates et al missed a once in a lifetime opportunity to put the entire town back to work in short order and avoid an actor's strike. Actors depend on residuals for as much as 50% of their income. An eventual reduction of residuals by as much as 90% could mean the DECIMATION of the corps of actors and a dimunition in the number of working writers in LA and New York, leading to an eventual end to US dominance in the worldwide entertainment industry.

So, no, this isn't even close to a good deal. But it is a start. The AMPTP has actually TALKED to the DGA. Now they have to explain to the town, and the world, why they aren't talking to the guild whose contract expired some months back...the one on strike for a TRULY fair deal.

This is, at best, a stepping stone to a good agreement, that will bring real peace and prosperity to the industry.

And so much for Gil Cates legacy as the great uniter. I've met you, Gil, and I like you. And I am bitterly disappointed in you. By rushing to make a grossly deficient deal, you've undoubtedly lengthened the strike by encouraging the moguls to hold out until we cave, as well. But even if that happened, it wouldn't keep the actors from striking: they've got even more to lose than the writers. And what will you have accomplished then, Gil? Just how does that put DGA members back to work?

You really haven't learned much in the 23 years since you gave away billions of your members residual dollars, have you?

buzzearl said...

Fib & Liar . . I mean Cory and Matt:

"Cory", you've been all over the comments section of United Hollywood today slinging crap.

Go back to your troll hut--Fib & Liar Headquarters--and get a piece of pizza and play "Dragons and Dungeons" on your computer.

Didn't you say in an earlier post that the DGA Negotiations would go on forever?

In this moment of entertainment industry negotiation, it doesn't really matter who managed to move the goals forward: That you would be naive enough to think that the DGA managed to achieve this "on their on" in 6 days --without the WGA creating the template and the WGA walkout shutting down everything and forcing almost all production to a halt-- shows me that you must be 17 years old who is paid by his daddy to post this moronic rants.

It's time to go do your homework.

BuzzEarl

hotline said...

Matt Hollings -

Are you even a real member of the WGA? The ONLY reason the DGA got any decent contract is because of our leadership being strong. The AMPTP had no choice but to negotiate seriously with the DGA or they would've come out looking like the bad guys. THANK YOU PATRIC AND DAVID!!!!

scribeguy said...

Apologies for grammar and spelling errors in my earlier post. I've got to stop composing comments in these tiny little boxes.

UH, any chance of installing spellcheck on this thing. I obviously need it.

hotline said...

And I'll add that I think this is a start... we've got some ways to go.

WGA leadership - I am and every writer I talk to are behind you a thousand percent. Whatever it takes!!!!

Captain Obvious said...

I love you guys that are responding to the clearly-uninformed drivel of Matt and Cory. Good form! Pretend like they actually have a valid point. Or just call them what they are.

kisum said...

Being a member of both guilds, it seems clear to me that the writers have much more clout than they seem to realize. Without writers nothing gets made. Everything shuts down. Everyone's out of work. I hate to say it because I worship great directors but you don't even really need a director to make a good film. But you do need a good story. Good actors too.

Obviously there are directors who are visionary artists but the run-of-the-mill studio-suck-up director really doesn't know much or need to. There's a DP to set up all the shots. Actors to interpret. 1st AD to move the set. Editors to fashion the the story, and on and on. But there's nothing without writers.

After going through this strike experience I really feel writers have to understand that they deserve far more respect from the town. "A film by" is a cruel joke. I've received it myself and now regret it. It's completely insulting to the author. And writers are the "authors" and should legally be the authors of their work. Article 1 Section 8 for Godsake! What happened to that? How is the studio the "author" of an original screenplay as it states in any standard writing contract?

I do feel like this is going to end now but I don't feel writers will get any more respect and I'm still trying to figure out why. Writers and actors have all the leverage but they make a deal with the directors. Why? I think it's because they know there's something fundamentally wrong and unfair at the base of all of this and making a deal with the writers might empower them. Writers should not be fighting for scraps and then get pissed on by the AMPTP who quickly sign a deal with the directors. It's outrageous to me.

I'm a director at heart but I earn a decent living as a writer/producer and it pains me that writers are in the position of being forced to take the deal that the directors work out.

I think writers need some self respect at this moment and should take a hard look at this deal. The DVD giveaway cost billions. Is this a repeat?

intrigued said...

Not being part of the industry, all the minute details don't exactly hit home to me. I can;t decide on my own whether to classify this deal as a win or loss (for either side). Reading the comments on this blog aren;t clearing up anything either, some say its a great deal and others say it sucks.

(I really don't have anything of value to add, but just wanted everyone to know i am still watching)

B said...

Kisum -

Since comments are now moderated I will refrain from saying what I think the rest of your name is.

A lot of damage has been done - believe it or not to both sides - in this strike. The comments you make are not only incredibly demeaning to another set of creative workers, they are also demeaning to writers. Do you honestly feel we can be swayed by comments that are so nakedly meant to keep passions stirred while what is requires at this moment is soul searching thought?

Anyone who wants to may take this puffery to heart. My self-esteem does not rely on demeaning others or playing some macho game of "respect".

Say whatever about my post. I don't care.

MrKlaatu said...

If the negotiating committee is reading this:

There seems to be no way of protecting TV residuals. The networks will stream a show online instead of rerunning on TV, as they do with LOST and 24.

But, please try to protect our foreign residuals, by seperating them from Internet streaming. Insist that streaming be IP blocked geographically, limiting it to the U.S. Otherwise, there will be no insentive to sell any shows internationally.

rachem said...

I don't like the 17 day window.

I think that was stupid.

Josh said...

Much as I wish they could, I don't see how the WGA can take this deal. The TV writers would go insane (and they should). It's essentially an end to rerun residuals as a meaningful source of income. The DGA has negotiated themselves a nominal raise (keep in mind the raises in this contract aren't like getting a raise in January 2008 for all your hard work in 2007 - they're raises from their last contract, i.e. for their last three years of work) ... in exchange they're giving up their residuals forever. Fair trade? I wouldn't take it. If nothing else that clause has to change. But that's really what this whole thing has been about.

Chip said...

Apparently the Director's core audience is made up of people who can't figure out how to watch a television show on the Tinternet for over 17 days. My kids can figure out how to do this in 17 seconds.

The MegaCorps are going to make money on the usual advertising sales for each and every one of those seventeen days. This is the end of reruns. And of residuals.

The feature directors have again sold out everybody. They may be two-faced. Check David Latt's footage.

TV directors don't control the script, the production, the actors, the performances. They basically tell the steadycam guy where to stand. But like my Aunt Shirley, they all think they'll hit the lotto and become feature directors, so they don't care about TV residuals.

Nice of them to sell everyone out six months before even being asked. By don't go by me. It might just be the Robitusson talking.

RaisedByMongrels said...

Good grief. I've never been one to call people shills, but at this point it's like they aren't even trying to hide it.

Anyway, this DGA deal seems a bit too tricky to me. Why all the weird conditions, time windows, cutoffs, etc? And .7% for online downloads? Not even a whole penny on the dollar? Really, DGA?

It seems like this deal was taylor-made to let both parties save face. The DGA gets to tell people they secured residuals for new media, and the AMPTP gets to look like are willing to make a fair deal without actually having to make one.

I have no personal stake in this other than wanting my favorite shows back on the air, but I sure hope the WGA has enough self-respect to fight for something better and more straightforward if they are offered something similar to this.

jere7my said...

I'm a little confused about the 17 days myself. Before the internets, shows didn't generally rerun within 17 days anyway, right? Rerun season came around three months later. Sure, once in a while a Smallville will do a special second airing on Sunday, and some shows air again the same day, after midnight — but in those cases, there was already a special cheap-o rerun residual deal in place, right?

So I guess my question is (and I'm not trying to be snarky here, just naive): does the WGA lose anything if they don't get paid for the first 17 days of internet reruns? If the show has to air first on TV, they'll get the usual residual payment for that. The clause is tied to the first TV airing of an episode, so no matter what they're still getting that first payment they always would've gotten. By providing streaming video for the first 17 days, the writers are only losing the money they would have made on reruns in the first 17 days — and there usually aren't any, 'cos who wants to watch the same show twice in two weeks?

So I guess the 17 days of streaming sound to me like the same initial broadcast, just spread out so viewers can watch it whenever they want to. Once the streaming starts to cut into actual rerun season, the writers start getting paid again.

As I say, I'm probably being naive in some way here, but I thought I'd ask.

RaisedByMongrels said...

Jere7my,

The problem with that is that the studios are raking in extra ad revenue for each time someone watches that show online. So, for the first 17 days, the studio is making tons of free money that they aren't sharing with the people who created the show.

If the 17 day thing was truly just for promotional reasons, they would stream the episodes with no ads at all. I seriously doubt this is what they plan to do.

jere7my said...

That's a good point, RBM, and I actually hadn't thought of that. It may be, though, that in their minds it's not "extra" revenue, since the number of viewers is basically constant, and the ad revenue is (supposedly) calculated from the number of viewers. If a million people watch Hee Haw the Next Generation on the TV, the advertisers pay a certain rate. If half a million watch it on TV and half a million watch it streaming, the networks get that streaming ad money, but get less for the initial broadcast — they lose money on the one hand and gain it back on the other, right? Whereas writers' residuals (I think) don't depend directly on the number of eyeballs tuning in.

Maybe I'm playing devil's advocate here, but I bet that's how the networks are thinking: they're not going to get more viewers by streaming, they're just going to move some of their viewers from the couch to the computer, so it's all a wash for them.

Well...obviously, it's not a complete wash, or they wouldn't do it — there has to be extra profit in there somewhere to motivate them. But that might be a good approximation of their thought process: "Why pay writers twice, when we're getting more or less the same ad revenue in total?" If they're thinking of the streaming episode as being a way to catch viewers who should've been watching the first time, to make up ad revenue they lost to the internet, I can see them thinking of it as sort of a diffuse first-run broadcast.

In the extreme example, you can imagine nobody watching shows on that outmoded "TV set" anymore, in which case the networks would get zero ad dollars from that first broadcast, while they'd still have to pay the writers their full fee (under the DGA contract).

Venice said...

So, regarding all the force majeurs... the AMPTP claimed, in an ultimatum just before storming away from the bargaining table with the WGA, that one of the WGA's proposals that was absolutely unacceptable in any form or revision was that residuals be calculated based on distributor's gross.

And now that same AMPTP has signed a deal with the DGA with a provision that residuals be based on distributor's gross. How can a strike that is prolonged by bad faith bargaining by one party also be the basis for "force majeur" canceling of millions and millions of dollars of deals by that same party? Can this possibly be legal?

Secondly, whatever the DGA was able to get was clearly made possible by the pressure the WGA and SAG applied to the AMPTP.

We're the "bad guys" just like Paul Revere was a bad guy to the King of England. To the rest of us he was a patriot.

The WGA needs to review this DGA contract. If it's a good deal for writers, then let it be signed; if not, this is the time to continue apply our leverage to secure a good deal for writers and not be swayed by the weak-kneed in this town.

Mrs_garrett said...

Why is it that anyone who has a dissenting opinion is automatically deemed a 'shill'? Isn't this site for varying opinions and discussions? This deal may not be entirely what the writers want, but it is closer. We can't in one hand dismiss it as crap and in the other decide they wouldn't have gotten it without the strike. They made an agreement, and the NegCom has to negotiate with the studios in their language-- not come in swinging and spouting off. That's how it's done. The DGA negotiators are cut from the same cloth as the Studios negotiators, and in order to get anywhere, you gotta walk and talk like them. And this nonsense that the DGA just negotiated themselves a raise is just that-- the only thing they got outside the normal 3% increase is for the woefully low rate they were getting for 1/2 hour and one hour BASIC CABLE shows (amazing ones like Damages, The Closer, and Mad Men) and their guaranteed days were increased so they are actually not making more- they have to work more days. If the WGA wants to save face, it needs to accept these terms-- with maybe a few tweaks that make sense for writers-- and get everyone back to work or there will likely be a huge backlash- from within and without.

Captain Obvious said...

Mrs Garrett, that's not the case at all. Only people that are blatantly uninformed or blatantly twisting the facts to serve their commentary (hard to tell the two apart) get called shills, idiots, plants, or a combination of the three.

Brian said...

Mrs Garret Wrote:
"If the WGA wants to save face, it needs to accept these terms-- with maybe a few tweaks that make sense for writers-- and get everyone back to work or there will likely be a huge backlash- from within and without."

I for one, did not vote to strike and cause myself hardship, to save face. This is a fight to try to insure that everyone ATL and BTL -can get a fair share of the fruits of their labor.

The studios seem to think that they are manufacturing some sort of widget - Which they can just import from China if the US market doesn't maximize the stock options that they pay to the CEOs.

What they are - is marketers and funders of creative individuals - real, flesh and blood people who need to live and eat - and all of them from the PA to the Director - contribute to the creation of intellectual property. TV Shows and movies are not made out of plastic - but seeing the DVD boxes the Studios seem to think that is what they are selling. But it's not. They are selling what is on the disks and that is the product of creative individuals.

I don't care who get to say they is the hero of all this in the end - I don't care who saves face. I just want to see a fair deal for all the PEOPLE involved.