1/17/2008

First Glance at the Deal Summary

Before we begin, here's a caveat: WE ARE NOT LAWYERS. WE ARE NOT BUSINESS AFFAIRS EXECS. WE ARE NOT PROFESSIONAL NEGOTIATORS.

We're a group of volunteer WGA strike captains, and we're posting our reactions to the DGA deal summary that was released today. These are our thoughts alone. They are not official, they don't reflect the WGA's opinion, and frankly, they will probably include a few mistakes.

Which brings us to our second caveat: The DGA deal summary is just that, a summary. It's not the final comprehensive contract. That document, we've been told, is still being drafted by the DGA. So the unclear items in the summary will remain so until the DGA releases the contract.

Since the conversation is raging already, we want to weigh in with our preliminary thoughts. Caveats in mind, here we go:

Issues of Wage Increase, Residual Increase and Healthcare
From what we can see in the summary, there are no rollbacks and some decent increases. As rollbacks on just about everything were such a big part of the congloms' proposal to the WGA, we are, cautiously, optimistic here.

Jurisdiction on Internet Productions
The good: Content that is derivative of something already covered would likewise be covered. In other words, mobisodes, webisodes, whatever-isodes based on something that's already a series or a movie are automatically covered, no matter what the budget.

The bad: We can't tell from the deal summary language if that includes the WGA concept of "separated rights." And there are few concepts more important to writers than separated rights. When you create a character, you have merchandising, sequel and other exploitation rights to that character. Those rights can be a very important source of income -- just ask the creators of a character named Captain Jack Sparrow.

Original Internet-first content
The good: there's coverage for productions costing $15,000/minute, when before there was no coverage at all.

The bad: No minimums are mentioned. We don't know for sure, but that could mean the DGA didn't negotiate any. Also, no mention of separated rights in the summary for Internet-first.

Here is a nightmare scenario: Networks start making inexpensive pilots with a budget of $299,000 and put them up on the Internet (on say, Hulu) to gauge their popularity. It's bargain-basement R&D. If a pilot hits, it gets aired on conventional TV, but pays no residuals, contributes no health & pension, provides no separated rights... provides no protections at all. Fifty years of hard-fought creator rights would vanish.

The ambiguous: Regarding coverage of original content below $300,000 per episode, the summary says: "Original content below the threshold will be covered when a DGA member is employed in the production." That language is unclear. If a single DGA member is employed in a sub-$300,000 production, is the whole production covered (including btl crew)? Or just the DGA member? If it's the whole production, that's a "good." But if it's just one person? That's a "bad."

Electronic Sell-Through (aka downloads)
For the first 100,000 downloads of a TV show, the payment is the DVD rate: 0.3%. After the first 100,000, it rises to .7%

For features, the rate is 0.3% for the first 50,000 downloads and 0.65% thereafter.

The good: It's more than twice what we were being paid before.

The bad: What we had before was based on the miserable DVD formula. WGA, SAG and DGA had all agreed that that number really should be 1.2%, and the unions have actually sued the congloms over it, claiming that the use of the DVD formula for downloads is a misinterpretation of their respective MBAs.

So the 0.7% and 0.65% numbers are still terribly low. In addition, many downloads will not reach the 100,000 or 50,000 threshold, and will generate only the abysmal 0.3%.

It's frustrating to us that the DGA couldn't increase that number out of the DVD range. The DVD formula was based on the notion that "home video" meant a bulky plastic VHS tapes with enormous manufacturing and transportation costs. Those costs decreased dramatically over the years. But no increase in residuals. They decreased dramatically again with birth of DVDs. (You can slip them under a door!) But no increase in residuals. With downloads, the manufacturing cost is exactly zero dollars. And terabytes of storage are getting cheaper by the hour. But we still can't improve that DVD formula? Really?


Distributor's Gross
Payments for EST and, we assume, downloads will be based on distributor's gross, which is much better than producer's gross.

The good: This is what the WGA was asking for, and up until now, the congloms said it was a non-starter.

The bad: How will the accounting be kept transparent? The deal summary doesn't provide any guidance. Until we know how the DGA plans to guarantee that the distributor's gross is an accurate number, we can't know if this is meaningful. ("Net profit" points, anyone?)

Ad-Supported Streaming
For the first 17-24 days, no residual payments at all. After that first run, $600 for six months, up to $1200 for the first year of unlimited streaming. After the first year, 2% of distributor's gross.

The good: 2% of distributor's gross is a meaningful number, again with the caveat that the accounting has to be transparent.

The bad: In the near future -- and in some cases, the present -- rerunning television shows on the Internet will replace conventional reruns. This structure, as described in the summary, to our eyes appears to be the end of television residuals. Whereas a primetime network rerun would be worth $20,000, unlimited streaming on the Internet would be worth only $1200, assuming the episode is kept available for an entire year.

Now, as the companies point out, the current Internet streaming market cannot support a residual level that conventional TV can. It may in the near future, in the distant future, or never. So that's why it seems to us (as the WGA NegComm has said in the past) that the best strategy here is to grant the writer a percentage of real revenue. That is not only the best way to fairly compensate writers, but also a hedge for the companies. If and when the streaming market takes off, flat fees for reuse will be egregiously unfair. The percentage model could, in time, make up for the loss of TV residuals as advertising moves solidly to the Internet.

In years two through infinity, 2% of distributors gross is a meaningful formula. But 2% of what? Even if an episode is kept online for more than one year (and who's to say it would), the demand to view it will be minimal. After a year, the episode will likely be available on a DVD set, and has probably been available as a paid download for some time. The minimal number of streams will mean a minimal ad rate. So enjoy your 2%, writer.

If the ad revenue even in the first year of streaming turns out to be negligible, then giving writers a percentage is insurance that the congloms won't have to overpay. But if something takes off and becomes wildly successful, then a percentage-of-revenue model would reward the writer appropriately.

Sunset Provision
This provision apparently tries to address the fear that the unions will again fall into the DVD trap. It is meant to provide a framework to reevaluate the state of the market and adjust for it in three years.

The problem is, a contract expiring is supposed to provide exactly that structure and that insurance. If you've made a bad deal, you get to revisit it in a few years. We're unsure how the sunset provision is any more insurance or provides any more "teeth" than the ordinary process of a contract expiring. And, of course, we're concerned that all the assurances that the DVD deal was temporary were, in the end, empty promises.

In conclusion... There are some genuine gains here, some issues that need clarification and some points of grave concern that threaten to drastically undercut writers' compensation. The DGA deal, as we understand it, is neither reason for celebration nor mourning. Writers (and actors!) must resist the urge to get entrenched in a position on this too quickly. Parts of this deal will be the basis for a meaningful resumption of talks with the WGA, parts of this will not. Let's discuss it, let's debate it, but let's keep it civil and understand that the deal that gets everyone back to work will be the one that no one loves, but everyone can live with.

94 comments:

AnthonyDe said...

The nightmare scenario is exactly the kind of thing I'm afraid of. Now factor in the 17 promo period into that. This negotiation is very difficult because broadcast TV and internet streaming will merge during the life of the contract and we have to almost forecast potential ways that the AMPTP might manipulate that model to screw the WGA and negotiate the proper protection. I think it's a mistake making the promo period a fixed time. It should be a scale.

FiN-Help said...

First let me say I am not part of the WGA nor have any current interests in joining.. Yes I am affected by the strike but I still stand strong with the writers. If they can wait it out.. so can we all. Most ATL and BTL wouldn't have jobs if it weren't you.

So with that, let me add that the deal set forth by DGA is a trap for WGA. The studios already have a model set forth for new media which they have not disclosed. This has been their biz develop peeps top agenda since 2003.
Don't be fooled... once your content hits THEIR site it will be theirs and you will be screwed. The WGA original proposal assures writers will get a piece of the pie, regardless.
If you settle now, you will have gone on strike in vain. Make this count. Give this industry back to the true creatives -not the business folk.
17 days??? I don't even wait 17 days to watch an episode I've missed. Honestly, I just lose interest,tivo, or try to catch up with the following episode.
The DGA deal is NOT a deal for writers.
And don't go by agents. Remember when you couldn't get an agent to rep b/c you weren't a hot ticket? Remember all the calls you made and all the
"meetings" and you never got a call back.
And remember how they swap submissions and
even scripts??? You can't trust agents. The greenbacks in their wallets is the only thing important to them. When it boils down to it .. the congloms are the ones who pay for agents toys.

Dennis Wilson said...

Hey, if DGA members want to ratify this turd, more power to them, but this would be a terrible contract for writers.

Pattern bargaining was always bad business for writers -- what sense does it make to let our future be determined by others? -- and this ought to be axe that finally splits the chains holding us to the DGA's shitty deals.

DLJ said...

The streaming residual system would seem on first glance to be pretty awful. I don't have a problem with the window. I mean, the real concern with streaming is that it will replace broadcast repeats and shows don't get rerun within 17 days (or 24 for that matter).

The problem is the hard cap of $1200 for a year of unlimited streaming. That's absurd.

Since they don't want to give a percentage of ad revenue, why not put that flat fee on a sliding scale, tiers of flat rates that increase the more a show is streamed. Shows that earn less revenue would pay less residuals, shows that earn more would pay more.

Captain Obvious said...

My personal opinion is that we should force formal talks. Our formal talks are already ongoing, why start informal talks now? They don't deserve that luxury.


Open formal talks and lay a trailblazing counter-proposal in their lap. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Cyber said...

Perhaps the 'Sunset' provision is there to contractually bind the AMPTP to come to (and stay at) the table at the end of the contract period (instead of having 42 days of walk-out by the congloms). And since it's bound in a contract, if the congloms *don't* do it, then can't you sue them for breach of contract or something?

-Nth- said...

I hope the members of the DGA choose not to ratify this deal its not good for their members and is a far cry from even being a model or framework for the WGA contracts.

The deal is quite frankly absurd in regards to the streaming media, the promo period should be 3-6 days at most and end certainly over before the following episode airs on television after its first season for first season perhaps a promo window of 14 days is permissable. Streaming media is certainly replacing downloaded media in regards to televison episodes as players on sites are becoming faster with less buffer time and available in full screen mode banking anything on downloads for individual TV episodes at this point is almost pointless as most networks will just not offer it for download individualy but be sure to include it so there are no loop holes. Download agreements should certainly be made for TV season collections and it should be a percentage not a fixed rate. Streaming of episodes of any series Should be ended as soon as the DVD is available or a new season begins whatever happens first.

As for films due to the new HD-DVD/BLU ray formats a percentage like .4% is not asking to much otherwise they may catch you in the same net as the VHS/DVD fiasco you have been previously caught in.

Continue to stand strong and get what you deserve without you they cant make TV and their film script pool will soon run dry. I'm sure you are getting a lot of discord from fans of your work at the moment but without you there can be no film or TV that is of quality or is decent for intelegent people to view. I do not like reality TV or gameshows i do however approve of bringing the fixers of thoes shows into your union as it will make you stronger should the next contract deal result in a strike meaning of course there will be nothing to replace the beloved and good things that you write next time around.

Jesse Wendel said...

The $1200 per year is a deal breaker.

From $20k down to $1.2k. Are they nuts?

Let's put in all the zeros...

$20,000 for one network rerun, to $1,200 for unlimited streamed reruns for an entire year.

Oh, yeah. That's a great deal.

Plus the DVD rate still sucks.

Not to mention the nightmare scenario.

Short me: Plug the loopholes or we're screwed. STRIKE! Future writers are counting on it.

Sage said...

This deal has some good elements, but also some very bad ones.

First of all, how does it affect residuals from DVDs and Blu-ray? There is so much discussion of new media, but I'd like to know if the DGA has set out to rectify the ridiculously low residuals that artists were getting for DVD sales.

Second, the internet downloads rates sound terrible. 0.3%??? Really? The producers will laugh all the way to the bank on this one. And the nightmare scenario regarding $299,000 pilots doesn't sound so implausible to me. The pilot of "Buffy" or "Seinfeld" or "The Office" could easily be produced for that much.

I'm sure the WGA reps will take a close look at this. No way do you strike for three months just to take a crappy deal.

Ben said...

I'm so glad to see that people are carefully studying the DGA deal and weighing the pros and cons of what it may or may not mean to the WGA deal, instead of jumping to conclusions and dismissing the DGA deal out of hand.

jimmy said...

So, it's about new media. That's the important one.

And the new media provision still kind of stinks.

jimmy said...

So let's work with real numbers here. Everyone, feel free to check my numbers.

Under the old contract, if you wrote an original episode of Grey's Anatomy, you'd get $30,823.

If they reran the show on the network, you'd get an additional $21,078.

So, that's $51,901.

If all reruns go to the internet, which is the suspicion of all the new media rollouts of Hulu, AppleTV, Netflix, etc. then the second payment would not happen.

And if you max out the internet residuals, you'd get $1,200.

So, a television writer used to getting $51,901 in compensation for normal network practices, will now get $32,023.

Old: $51,091
New: $32,023

That's a 38% pay cut for television writers PER EPISODE.

For a director, if he/she directs that same episode of Grey's Anatomy, they got $35,927 under the old contract. And an additional $21,528 when the program is rerun.

Old: $57,455
New: $37,127

That's a 35% pay cut.

Is that math right?

Did the DGA just negotiate a 35% paycut for their television directors????

If you could save close $20,000 PER EPISODE PER WRITER AND DIRECTOR by streaming the reruns through AppleTV, wouldn't you do it?

Especially since you can fill that air time with a reality or game show that doesn't cost nearly as much to fill that time?

Huh.

Michael said...

A couple points:

re, the nightmare scenario- yes, it's something worth thinking about. But the flip side of the argument is that, as everyone in the WGA has been talking about for months, at some point new media and private equity entities will start trying to compete with studios on internet programming-- and for studios to remain competitive in that atmosphere (and I'd argue that it's very much in the WGA's interest that they remain competitive), they may need that kind of break.

As for the ad-supported streaming issue, yeah, $1200 seems like too low a cap. I continue to wonder why nobody's been discussing (publicly, at least) some sort of model of creditability between broadcast and internet residuals-- for instance, if you get the 20K first-rerun check, you don't also get internet residuals. But if your episode *doesn't* get a broadcast rerun, then you get streaming residuals, scaled appropriately to traffic.

I don't think, frankly, that it's reasonable to expect an episode that isn't rerun on broadcast to generate enough revenue to justify a 20K residual payout in even the best case scenario. But $1200/year does seem like a too-low cap, and crediting broadcast and streaming residuals against each other would be fair to writers and also prevent studios from having to essentially 'double dip'- pay a 20K broadcast residual (which, as it's fixed to the script fee, doesn't shrink along with the shrinking audience numbers that broadcast is experiencing) and then also pay streaming residuals.

And, yes, separated rights is a big question mark. I guess the issue just doesn't apply to the DGA really, so they didn't address it.

Michael said...

Oh, a couple other things:

1) I'm glad that there's a longer promotional streaming window for first-season shows, because if scripted programming is going to survive against cheaper and often-better-performing reality shows, new shows need that kind of break. I know the length of the windows are going to seem too long to a lot of WGA members, but I'm okay with it. Because, again, if broadcast reruns really do evaporate, studios will need that income to justify the comparatively huge budgets of scripted shows. (Plus, there's the philosophical question of whether near-term streaming is 're-use' when everyone agrees the primary use market of broadcast is nearing obselesence.)

2) Small point, but I think the thing about using clips without paying residuals is fine.

granny said...

I don't know how good this deal is for the WGA but what I do know is this: isn't what is happening the AMPTP plan from the day they walked out? Make a deal w/DGA and then however bad it may be for the WGA use it to make the WGA leadership seeem unresaonable...We may be on strike but they're writing a good script.

jimmy said...

BUT -- there's another way to look at those numbers I posted earlier.

The network television rerun is rapidly loosing value. I never watch them, myself. I'd rather watch something else and just get the DVDs and catch up. Or *gasp* watch it online instead.

And that's the consumer in me that wants AppleTV and streaming Netflix and all the entertainment I want at my fingertips.

It's not like the studios are developing and supporting technologies specifically to screw writers, it is the technology the consumer wants. I know I do.

So, it's simply something writer (and actors and directors) might have to accept that a large part of their income will come from the value of the rerun.

But, it does seem that the value of the first run actually increases. These are the shows that people are more likely to watch in real time, not skipping commercials.

I would think that a reasonable argument would be that if the new media residuals are firm, then the minimums for television writing need to be jacked up more than 3 percent.

Both sides are struggling to find a way to replace the money they got other places that they will no longer in the future.

hotline said...

The last big strike lasted for five months. There's more at stake now. I never had the fantasy that this would be settled in three months. We have a ways to go.

We must shattered the perception of we writers as being self-loathing sell-outs and finally demand the respect of this industry. Now is the time to do it. Now is the chance to do it.

Be strong, WGA.

Fred said...

This deal is amazingly bad for the directors re TV episodic. How can their Guild agree to this massive pay reduction? Are they insane?

I know I'm not.

Next!

Tom said...

The $1200 is a dealbreaker. The $1200 is what the moguls are having a grand joyous bwahaha over right now. I hope that this is explained patiently and clearly to the members of the WGA.

dp said...

There is a huge trap here. I am a DP and I don't get residuals but let me share some insider knowledge here. I have already been in meetings with network presidents about generating new media for the internet. We discussed budgets. The target budget that they want to hit is $3500 a minute. They won't pay you a dime. They are not going to start by putting a new "Grey's" type show on the internet. The $300k for a pilot? How are you ever going to find out what the real budget is? The IA has the same type deal with features. Creative accounting hides all production budgets. You will never know, and continue to get screwed.

The next big trap is the 17 day window. What is that? Remember how the current deal sets some pilots up as presentations? Remember how we gave a new start up cable network-HBO-- a sweet heart deal with reduced rates so they could get a foothold? Now they make more than all the networks combined. Where is the new deal on that?

The reason I am skeptical is because this deal will trickle down to everyone. I like my friends at the DGA but, excluding the Directors, most of the membership makes a living repeating the obvious-"we're rolling, we're cutting, camera reloads...."

Don't repeat '88. Don't fall for the 17 day, $300k or 15K per min deals. The percentage for residuals is low and you can renegotiate that in 3 yrs, but the "freebie" shit has got to go. They will never roll that back.

Glickla said...

The promo period is bullshit. Anything that has a commercial in it is revenue-generating and that revenue needs to be shared. If they want something free to use as a promo, let's offer them a percentage of whatever it is -- say up to 25% of a TV program or film may be shown (without commercials) with no payment triggered. If the consumer wants to watch the whole thing, they can watch the "commercial" version and the writer can get paid, just like the studio.

bryn said...

I am not a member of the WGA, but I am fiction writer so I have been following the TV/Film writers plight with interest. What amazes me is the willingness of many WGA members to jump at the chance to go with the DGA deal, even though it is obviously a poor one - and a perfect example of the AMPTP’s brilliant strategizing.

Why do the WGA writers have such little respect for their work and for themselves that they continually accept such embarrassingly bad deals? Call me crazy, but where would the entertainment business be without writers?

Without The STORY?

Take away a Director, yeah, your filming will stop, but you still have the story. Take away a crew, big name stars and the producers - no film. Got that. But, you STILL have the story. YOUR STORY. Take it elsewhere, produce it yourself, make it a novel, whatever, you still have SOMETHING.

But take away the story, the script, the idea, and you have a bunch of talented people standing around waiting for something to do. You cannot direct air. You cannot interpret blank pages. You cannot produce ‘NOTHING.’

So why in the world are writers so willing to grovel and beg for the privilege of being paid even a few pennies what they have created in the first place?

It boggles my mind. But that is why writers have no power in Hollywood. And I say, deservedly so. Call up your excuses: your mortgages, your children’s educations, blah, blah, blah. If money is your sole desire, go back to school, get your MBA and join the conglomerates to whom you currently give away your ‘art.’ Or better yet, go Fi-Cor and serve your masters for those pennies that you so rightly deserve.

hotline said...

bryn is RIGHT ON. Writers let's finally have some dignity and fight for what is deserved.

Every writer-director I've ever met has said that writers have the hardest job. We start with nothing. Everybody else works off our pages.

Every writer out there can hire a great DP and script coordinator and direct a film. Not every director can be a writer, yet we've allowed ourselves to be the joke of the set for years and years and years. It's time it stops.

Stay strong, WGA.

DLJ said...

I'm also a little bothered by the notion that if the content is cheap enough, they don't have to hire within the union. There's no equivalent within film or TV is there? No matter how low-budget the movie, signatories must hire within the union. Why allow this low-budget loophole here?

DLJ said...

Glen:

Accepting your statement that these projections of $1 billion digital revenue by the end of next year are incorrect and that there really isn't that much to be made from the internet right now...

... what would be wrong with giving us a percentage of streaming revenue or a sliding pay scale instead of a flat fee? The flat fee just makes everybody suspicious.

a writer said...

I'm hoping the Variety reports of showrunner support for this turd is the usual rubbish reporting. Showrunners and A-listers, please make sure every one of the glaring holes in this deal is fixed. And please explore more deals like Seth McFarlane or start writer-friendly companies with venture capital. You guys and gals can go down as heroes for generations to come, if you so choose.

wellcommander said...

Wow, they did it! They figured out a way to get rid of residuals. They've never liked paying those pesky things and now they won't have to (and the pension and health that goes along with them). Hang tough, writers. Residuals come in handy for things like, oh I don't know, house payments.

larryfouch said...

Doesn't this like look like a standard DGA deal?

Strong health/benefits, production up-tick, crappo residuals?

I'm wondering exactly where and how the "strength of the striking writers" aided their negotiations. It's clear they didn't push on issues important to us.

Stay strong.

just a thought said...

Steve Jobs wants to own the internet. The unveiling of Apple TV was both a boon to your argument and a bane.
The boon being that He told you who are his partners in crime. That being everyone of the studios. So now you have numbers.
The bane being is that He claimed that you will be able to download a movie in as little as five minutes over the phone. Well people until they make the phone lines faster a two hour movie will take about six hours.
Know your enemy. It's thew studios and those internet guy who promise much but really can't deliver.
As a side note it took me forty five minutes to download the new version of itunes the other day fifty six mb. They use to say Bill Gates was the anti christ, I'm not so sure anymore. Think about it.

-Nth- said...

I must have accidenlty omited a paragraph in my original post.

Putting a cap on straming media is the worst part of the entire DGA deal especialy one so very low. I dont even know how the negotiators came up with or approved such a thing. the floodgates will open for a three year period of pretty much unlimited ad revenue generated by the studios who will use theese caps as a tool for unlimited rebrodcast episodes online while not repeating them on television.

We as consumers want our anytime access to the shows simply because life does not stop at prime time anymore for consumers having an apointed time to do anything other then work is just not going to happen. The networks know this just look at NBC's ER page they do not run full episodes online there of that show and on that page is a flood of user comments about why they dont allow people to watch it online rather then discusssion about the episode as was intended for those episode pages.

The networks want to have it caped and want to pay writers adn directors as little as possible considering the outragous sums they pay the actors to perform the works you write. They want to milk as much as possible out of you during the three year contracts before they begin to disclose what they are really generating as their net income for AD revenue as in online streaming they force the consumer to watch the advertising before the show will continue they can guarentee AD companies their advertisments will be viewed instead of fast forwarded on a DVR/PVR/TiVO.

Putting a cap on this media is exactly what they want at this time thats why the negotiated with the DGA first instead of you they wanted to slip in a lesser deal and try to use it as a model. They want to parcel out reruns to the internet instead of repeating it on TV for instance Lost consumers wanted so bad to see a repeat that they ran the new episode on TV wendsday and often repeated that episode again on tuesday before the next one aired so people could catch up or revisit the clues provided in the episode. Thoes repeats cost them a lot of money now with the internet and the friendler streaming media thats been developed that repeat wont happen and you will get 18k less for that episode becasue they will just put it online for the bargain deal of 1.2k a year not to mention that in summer when repeats normaly appear and youd normaly get another 20k they would stick somthing else probably gameshow based into that slot and the episode would still be online for no additional cost to them becasue they already paid to have it put online for a full year adn you would get nothing more for it until the DVD/Download residuals came in. Streaming media should be negotiated that a one year run of the episode be double at best but at least at the worst equal to the full cost of one episodes repeat if it were to air on broadcast television.

I hope the National board of the DGA on saturday january 26 tells its negotiators "Are you Nuts? go back to the table there is no way we will accept this until streaming media is re-negotiated and the download units are at lower numbers"

Daniel said...

There's a little too much "sky is falling" here. You're operating under the thought that the studios will change business models or alter budgets to try and exercise all these loopholes. The studios want to pursue the way to make the greatest amount of money and aren't able to shape how consumers want to view their content (re-runs, downloads, streaming).

This isn't about them finding the cheapest way for them to broadcast a show then trying to get an entire nation of viewers to watch it through that medium. Remember that the networks are essentially in competition with themselves and will do whatever it takes to get the highest viewership for their content. So this deal was just making gains across the board in all the current broadcast formats. NBC isn't gonna shut down their broadcast network and force everyone to stream all their shows.

Brian said...

Glen-
There is money in the internet. A lot of Money. And it is there today. And if what you say is correct, why did the head of NBC-Universal Online Just announce to the crowd at the Consumer Electrics Show that they will make a billion dollars this year in online revenue?

And don't forget the new deals that the studios have signed with Apple, Netflix and Microsoft for Movie rentals. These deals are not like the old mom and pop video store deals - where the studios sold the tapes and the mom and pop stores kept all the rental income. These are revenue sharing deals - Where the studio provides the content and then gets around 70% of the revenue. It is not streaming - it is not sell through. It falls in that nebulous hybrid area - the area the studios like to live in - that area they can claim is not covered by the deals. And therefore, not subject to payments.

Content creators need to move toward a business model where they are partners not employees - Get an upfront payment against a share of all the money generated by it.

We all need to remember that in those moments when you have not signed away your rights - that current copyright law grants you a copyright instantaneously - the moment you put it on the page. this is a property right you have in your spec scripts and anything else you create. It has value and it has power. The studios what you to thin it does not. Start thinking like you have power and you will get it.

WLynn said...

Hi. I'm the silent, moderate majority. You haven't heard a lot from me. I was angry about the studio's threats to take away residuals. I voted for strike authorization. But I was disturbed by our leadership's rhetoric from day one. I didn't see how their stance would yield more gains than the less confrontational approach of the DGA. I was irritated they insisted on keeping reality and animation on the table. But I walked the line and stayed positive. I am not a millionaire who doesn't need to check his financial statements anymore to know his bills will get paid - nor am I unemployed, having found other ways to pay my bills. The strike is waged on my back and its force comes from my sacrifice.

The issue that made me vote for strike authorization was the threat of removing residuals altogether. No form of tortured logic can claim that this agreement is the death of residuals. It represents a rocky transition to the new platforms that will contain a degree of uncertainty (uncertainty that will be mitigated by the continuing presence of broadcast residuals for - in all likelihood - the life of this three year agreement). Any attempt to pin down all the "loopholes" at this stage is not possible. We simply wave to wait and see how the technology shakes out - and if the economics are as much of a permanent step back as some here claim - strike again.

In the meantime, the same passion we've shown for a fair deal with our industrial age partners should now be directed toward forming permanent relationships with new information age partners (Google, Apple etc.). In three years some meaningful headway could be made.

This is my guild too. I am tired of being ridiculed and called a "concern troll" or a shill for the studios. My awareness of the economic havoc being caused by this strike, and the exponential damage another 6 - 12 months will cause is not a sign of my weakness - it is a pragmatic concern for the economic eco-system we all inhabit.

I'm the silent, moderate majority. It is very important to me that militant rhetoric now be replaced with an extremely specific description of the endgame. Without an understanding of the endgame, I can't comprehend what could possibly be the net gain - to myself, writers in general, or the surrounding community - of continuing this strike.

I urge the leadership and my more militant brethren: please stop taking my support for granted.

I sincerely hope my concerns - and not just the concerns of those agitating for the perfect deal - will be addressed in the leadership's next communication.

rachem said...

Did they properly define what is a "promotion" yet?

MrKlaatu said...

17-day window: I agree that some window is fair. TV audiences are lower. Some people will watch online instead. Not every online stream is ADDITIONAL viewership. I'd say 7 days is more reasonable, though. (This jives with the networks' own live+7 model they've been wanting for Nielsen ratings.)

$1200 for streaming: It is on the low side. Expecting $20k though is ridiculous at this point. Eventually when IPTV replaces everything, it will make sense. For now, based on current revenue models, $3000 is probably the fair number.

I would also like to know what the 30-minute number is.

$299,000 pilots: I agree that the jurisdictional thresholds are too high. These should at the most be the same as the high/low-budget minimums that already exist in our MBA -- $60k, $100k, $200k for 15, 30, and 60-minute programs respectively.

EST rates: Since the DVD formula was based on 20% of revenue, supposedly due to high manufacturing and distributing costs, the EST rate should probably be based on 80% (there are still some distribution costs). So, it should be four-times the DVD rate, not twice.

Also, I would insist that any EST rate (and streaming revenue) be applied retroactively to when they started putting shows online.

In general: It seems what the DGA got is about halfway between what we had been offered and what is fair. I hope we can inch up the numbers as much as possible, but the congloms will never give us exactly what is fair. Do they ever when you make your individual deals? Or is it always somehow less.

lordmanji said...

bottomline: WGA should share in percentage of profits. The argument that theres no money in NM is nonsensical when we talk PERCENTAGES. if product does not make money, writer does not. if it does, then writers do share in profit.

also, there was no progress on DVD resids. WGA should fight for this harder since more money is in DVDs for the near future.

Remember, the DGA deal is a good starting point. The AMPTP has left the door open for negotiations having said this is not a take it or leave it offer. And its apparent the DGA resid deal is still too low because most of them dont profit share. Finally the AMPTP has quit stalling and is ready to give writers what they deserve.

Jon Raymond said...

It took a while but I see the alias shills are back and kicking.

Nice math Jimmy. There's not much more to say after that.

Strength in Solidarity said...

I am a DGA member and have supported the WGA in their effort against the AMPTP. There has always been the constant us vs. them mentality in the fight to keep the giant congloms from swallowing up the individual rights--hence, this is why our guilds/unions exist in the first place.

That being said, to say that... "every writer-director I've ever met has said that writers have the hardest job. We start with nothing. Everybody else works off our pages.

Every writer out there can hire a great DP and script coordinator and direct a film. Not every director can be a writer, yet we've allowed ourselves to be the joke of the set for years and years and years. It's time it stops." (as written by 'hotline')

Ummmm--excuse me for saying so, but to disrespect other crew members by dismissing them as less important than you writers is only going to succeed in ripping apart any support you may have from other industry workers. Guild solidarity is fine and dandy, but do not think that insulting other crew is going to help you in your cause. It will only suffice to spawn hatred for writers and further the disrepect you claim to currently have. If it's respect you crave, then perhaps you should not only look to your own Guild's solidarity, but maintaining the support or other crew who are EQUALLY important as you.

Please do not insult the rest of us by saying without you, there would be nothing. A quarterback couldn't win a game without a receiver and the rest of his team to back him up. A film/TV crew is a team and dammit, it is essential for your cause to recognize that we are all in this together. The minute you make yourself more important, is the day you shoot yourself in the foot.

Suggesting the rest of us are replaceable only further suggests that you are grossly unaware of how the entire process requires the talents of many... not just one. That mentality is what breeds the notion that writers are, as you say, "the joke of the set." When you leave your writer's room and step on a set with the notion in your head that you are more important than the people who deliver the material, that is where you seal your fate.

I still support the WGA in its attempts to protect its future. But I, and the other crew who support you, expect respect in return.

kellythedog said...

I'm a working writer and WGA member who has been on the picket lines everyday. I have a question for everyone here:

In the next 2-3 years, what do you honestly THINK the networks and cablers are going to immediately put in all of the slots that up until now were series reruns?

Frankly, I think very few shows that would normally have reruns aired will be replaced by other shows.

Sure, the ratings and ad rates will be down but at least at first, and perhaps for the length of the deal, I don't see a huge amount of writers losing their $20 K residuals. Some will but I don't predict very many.

It's still cheaper for the nets to run the reruns than new or other programming. They have to fill those hours. There are not going to be millions of downloads right off the bat. The money they lose for the ad rates and smaller rerun ratings can be made up by the new money streams for the ads on the network.coms.

Sure, down the road the paradigm will shift dramatically. But I really just want to get an idea of what you think they will put there instead. The 20K and other residuals they have to pay for reruns is still a pittance to them.

Where is this thinking wrong?

Dennis Wilson said...

Wlynn, thanks for the calm, well-reasoned explanation of your position. I agree with you that "any attempt to pin down all the "loopholes" at this stage is not possible," which is why a flat percentage of all revenue is the fairest internet payment solution.

But I question your describing yourself as (belonging to) "the silent, moderate majority." Silent and moderate you may be, but whether yours are majority views remains to be seen. I suspect they aren't.

Personally, I favor staying on strike until we secure our future, even at the cost of continued pain in the present.

Carol said...

We are now entering the period of negotiations when the writer's have all the leverage. The AMPTP wants to make a deal. A bad deal. Hold strong. As long as it takes for a fair deal.

Len said...

Speaking solely from the perspective of a rather geeky fan and a consumer, I have to agree with -nth-, DP, and bryn. It's great that the DGA something worked out, but this deal seems to have more disadvantages -- especially in regards to the residuals -- than gains for the writers. Plus, there is too much ambiguity and "what ifs" from what I can see, which would be easy for the studios to manipulate and claim.

This strike actually got me interested in studying the history of motion picture in the U.S. to catch up on some background, and it seems to be the writers -- especially when collectively organized into WGA -- have been one of the most frustrated people in Hollywood, at least dating "officially" from at least 1930s. Also, I surprised to find that when comparing general stats and numbers, TV screenwriters from countries such as Great Britain and S. Korea were usually better off than Hollywood writers. This is rather ironic, considering that Hollywood is the most internationally known and successful entertainment industry, and by logic, Hollywood writers should getting more benefits than their lesser known counterparts.

Stay strong, WGA. Settle for a deal YOU guys deserve.

Geo Rule said...

I think we are some years (5+, probably) away from when re-runs won't be shown on TV. What would they do with all that air time? Create new content to take that space? Isn't that good for writers?

Where its going to get sticky is when there is a fight between what's a TV and what's a download, when in fact the device showing it is both. Arguably your average DVR is already there.

jimmy said...

Everyone check out what John Wells said in an email at http://artfulwriter.com/?p=318

What do you think of his assessment?

jimmy said...

One thing I will add that does make some sense to me.

If the "rental rate" is good, I think that's actually more important that the streaming rate.

When I think about how I'll watch shows I missed, I'd certainly prefer to watch it in HD on my TV through a box like AppleTV than I would on my computer monitor.

I had always assumed that those rentals through netflix or appleTV would be part of the streaming rate. But that's wrong.

They are covered by rentals. No matter the delivery.

That eases my mind a LOT.

Veder said...

what are tv residuals based on anyway? i honestly don't know. if there's a % formula then that same formula should apply to streaming internet, and a (better) dvd formula should apply to downloads.

Matthew said...

Where did all of this..."networks will do away with reruns in x amount of years" come from. If the networks could save vast sums of money by putting new reality content on instead of re-runs then they would have done so already. Reality programs are not new. They have been around going on 2 decades and have already saturated the market and reruns still air like they always do...except now on more channels b/c more are available.

Mary Kate said...

The DGA contract is scary. Nightmare scenario is already here and has been in the works ny the studios for a long time. I am a below the liner who has worked on big budget and very small budget projects, including a recent internet only show (that surprisingly will now be aired on network for the strike!). The budget was ridiculously low, but the network was on set every day. Not one or two, but a revolving door of the same executives with notes I've known from the sets of real network shows. My point being, these small, low budget projects are uber-top priority for the networks and they are highly involved in their development and have loophole contracts already in place to staff (btl) them without paying union wages. Also, I have worked on a few under $300,000 "presentation" pilots, 1 of which landed on network as a series. The studios can produce internet content and pilots for so cheap because production value, they feel, is not as necessary because people are watching on a computer or just trying to sell it. This is the future of pilots. As much as I need to return to work soon, I support the writers and think this should be a dealbreaker.

Brandon said...

i'm sure this comment will go unnoticed as there seems to be ALOT of Armageddon-like chatter in here from people who seem to just be sheeping over soundbites and random blurbs, but IPTV has been around for almost a decade. It IS (if handled properly) an additional revenue stream currently, but it is NOT going to miraculously make TV go away before your next negotiations. Networks and affiliates are not going to just go black for half of the day and the vast majority of viewers out there are not going to rush out and purchase set-top boxes and/or upgrade to the adequate broadband connections to make the continuous delivery of on-demand content viable.

I understand the fear of getting screwed out of money you believe you deserve, so factor in some sort of ability to review and revisit numbers and put your own independent agencies in there to corroborate or dispute the studios numbers periodically. In short, watch your own asses and then come to the table with something solid. Also, as many have suggested, start exploring your own separate deals with new media organizations.

I appreciate that writers are the foundation of this medium, but you're a piece in a larger machine and you cannot function on your own. Whereas the machine may eventually find a way to function without you in your current form. I just think it would be best to get back to work (with a good but maybe not great deal) and attack this beast from the inside.

georgething said...

You don't set a precedent based on the assurance that three years of entrenchment later, it will suddenly be declared a non-precedent. Of course it's a precedent.

just a thought said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
just a thought said...

Now that cbs is putting Dexter on its sked, does it qualify as a re run or first run. How does it impact those who worked on it at a lower rate. ATL and BTL, anyone know.

Craig B said...

The tricksy thing here is that, of course, due to the convergence of technology it will soon be hard to tell if something is online or on TV - given that the TV set itself is already a very outdated concept. An AV device that can't browse the web? How 90's :) Does TV mean 'broadcast' - ie something that needs an antenna to pick up atmospherically distributed signal? If so - is cable TV actually TV? Or is it the net? Are 3GL mobile phone video calls actually TV? Etc etc etc.

The point being, an agreement designed with a 'TV is king' attitude will be out of date pretty quickly.

Some thoughts with this in mind:

It seems a lot of the proposal is dealing cautiously with scenarios where something may be airing on TV AND on the web. Hence the $1200 per year vs the 20k a year situation. The agreement is trying to be dual platform.

However, the smart money is on the kind of active-consumption on-demand viewing that new media allows being how things will work in the near future (which is why the promo period is too long. Fans will get their media fast). So it makes sense that this is thorny - which platform is more valuable now? Which will be more valuable in a few years time?

Why not term things in a 'first platform / second platform' kind of way? The 20k rerun rate is payable no matter where an episode is rerun, but IF it is rerun on both platforms, then the writer gets the 20k for the first platform and the 1200 for the second. Etc. So treating the platforms as equal means that the lions share of payments is due when the ep first airs - no matter where it airs - and the smaller set of payments are due when a platform is crossed. It's up to the congloms to work out which reruns will be profitable.

Sliding scales based on revenue earned (from the ground up) rather than fixed fee seems to be the only way to go here.

Tom B. said...

John Wells makes a convincing argument on all fronts -- including crediting the WGA strike effort for making it possible. His analysis of rerun residuals definitely opened my eyes... if it is accurate. I am also wondering about the budget levels for non jurisdiction web programming. They seem high to me and I am surprised that the Zwick web show cost more than $15,000 a minute. Seems wrong.

People please... said...

In the next few weeks there will be many arguments and screaming. The town will pressure us into taking the next deal that is offered us.

HOWEVER...

We need to remember that we are the 98lb weakling that has stood up to the muscle guy on the beach and demand that he stop kicking sand in our faces. That is why the AMPTP really hates us. Because we stood up and said "no".

We MUST STAY STRONG. We must stay together. We must get a deal that is fair and right, FOR US. We deserve it.

Writers united, we'll never be devided!

Jon Raymond said...

Something a lot of people seem to miss is the capability of internet and TV technology right now, and the fact that the only reason more people don't watch internet content on their TV screen is because the majors don't stream it over the net. The minute they stream programming you can bet people will plug in their video cards, run a cable to their TV, and get their remote keyboards and mouses. TV and computer will become one.

The studios hold the gun with their finger on the trigger. As soon as they start streaming, the industry is going to be revolutionized over the net.

It will be possible to simultaneously run thousands of shows on the net. It's not like cable where you are limited to a few hundred channels. You can own an unlimited number of websites and stream on all of them. They could air a show from every program ever produced at the same time. The revenue could be huge.

I hope the WGA will do some research on these possibilities.

The other thing is, if internet residuals are not that big of a deal as a lot here are saying, then the AMPTP has no reason not to give writers what ever they want. Why would they set such a low rate if they didn't see this huge future potential?

Huller said...

Someone on another site suggested that Nikki Finke was "told" to go away for a couple weeks (or compensated, maybe). It makes sense. If she really is ill as some have said, we would all know about it and there would be a pity party. And if she isn't sick, there's no way she wouldn't have returned for this. They want the WGA to think this is the final offer, something they try to convey every single time.

hotline said...

strength in solidarity -

If I made the impression that I don't respect the "team" that puts together television and films, my apologies.

I started as a PA working for free. I've done a lot of different crew jobs. I have nothing but the utmost respect for every crew member.

I was referring to things like "Film by" credits. I assure you when I am a hyphenate writer- director my "film by" credit will have every single crew members' name under it down to craft service. I believe that every single person plays a part in getting a film/TV show made. Film by credits are colossally arrogant and selfish.

Another thing I was referring to is the way AMPTP has been disrespectful to our negotiators - and from the get go. They were not to the DGA. That is a fact. In July the AMPTP were fat-headed jerks to the WGA leadership. Never to the DGA.

And I believe that there are many directors whose talent is surrounding themselves with talented people - like DPs and script coordinators. I was not disrespecting those positions at all. I was saying crew members can make directors look good. Nobody does that for the writer. The writer is on their own.

And I will tell you this... I did not vote for this strike. But I got behind it because I am loyal to my union. And then after seeing how the AMPTP has been behaving and then reading about how the middle class is eroding across the country due to big corporations decimating unions, I got behind this strike a thousand percent. I got behind it not for me - residuals never meant much to me - I got behind it for every union out there. I believe that the AMPTP is trying to break this unionized town apart. So I got behind this strike for every union of this town. For IATSE, for teamsters, for SAG and even for the DGA. I personally would be better off if the strike were over, but I am going to continue to support it for as long as it takes because I believe if we are weakened everybody else is, too.

Finally, I was referring to the cliche that writers are fat slobs in the way on sets. There are a few films that make this joke - Adaptation is one that comes to mind. We writers perpetuate it and allow it to happen. We need to stop allowing ourselves to be walked on by this industry.

And for all the comments suggesting we go three years and then see what new media does - who the hell wants to strike again in three years? Do you really think the AMPTP will negotiate fairly in three years? That's absolutely insane!

We've come a long way. We cannot break now. Stay strong. Everybody. Every union.

WilcoFan said...

I found John Well's post on Craig Mazin's blog to be infuriating -- his description of the ad-supported streaming as stupendous was disgusting. His explanation that, "Well, we don't have reruns anymore, so it doesn't matter if we're only getting 1200 dollars per episode." Nice try, John. It was my rerun residual from a major network show that kept me going through the first half of this year. We need to protect the residual system, precisely because people are going to be viewing the shows after the first 12 weeks the way they'd view reruns on TV.

Wells is a terrific producer, no question about it. But he stopped being a writer first somewhere around the time of third season of China Beach.

MrKlaatu said...

craig b --

Interesting idea. I had been suggesting something similar.

If the main concern is losing TV residuals, and the first rerun makes up the bulk of that (the so called $20k residual), then why not make that $20k ($10 for half hour) payable UPON FIRST REUSE? But, for that money, the network will get one TV rerun AND a certain amount (one month? three months?) of streaming. So, that way they get more than they are getting now, and writers are able to protect their big residual.

And the networks should always use that second run since they're paying for it. Even if they don't want to use network primetime real estate for it, they all own cable stations. Maybe the ycould even trade the single network rerun for two cable runs or two non-primetime runs.

But... my feeling this is all too far from the models both sides are looking at to have a real shot.

Harold said...

If John Wells says that the DGA deal is a good one, it's certain that's it not.

John Wells is 100% AMPTP. Whatever writer was in Wells died long ago.

Wells pushing AMPTP proposals as a WGA president and the resulting problems is one of the reasons why there is a strike now.

I'm not one of Verrone's biggest fans, but his agenda is his union. Wells does not support WGA - TO ANY DEGREE.

Wells even worked out a deal that enabled him not to apply a WGA contract on HIS "ER" WRITERS.

Wells = AMPTP. Don't fall for his B.S. Craig Mazin loses serious credibility points promoting that shill. It's not as if Mazin had many to start with.

Unless anyone forgot, one of Wells' ideas was to give away DVD residuals "so the WGA looks reasonable and AMPTP can't spin that they aren't."

Now, you want to listen to this AMPTP guy AGAIN!?!?!

WTF is wrong with you people?

Tim said...

For the life of me I just don't understand the bickering. Finger pointing. We all have opinions. Who's to say there is an absolute. I agree with some things. Disagree with others.

The bottom line: I think overall that the DGA agreement is a good starting point for talks with the WGA. To dismiss it as useless and insulting is really counterproductive. this agreement, in my opinion, could serve as a template to be improved upon in certain areas. Who's to say that can't be accomplished...unless you question the WGA leadership. And, that goes to my original point that the critics on this blog appear to be devisive. In fact, I will go as far as to say that the divisive ones are acting in a sabotaging manner. Could they be AMPTP moles?

Let's stay united people! United in a productive manner. Please! Stop the bickering and let people voice their opinions. This strike needs to end. Let's get back to the table! The DGA agreement is a good place to start.

PJ McIlvaine said...

If you notice Mazin has not taken a position yet...

Josh said...

"And for all the comments suggesting we go three years and then see what new media does - who the hell wants to strike again in three years? Do you really think the AMPTP will negotiate fairly in three years? That's absolutely insane!"

I completely agree with this sentiment. This is all about setting precedent ... these contracts are going to be the basis for guild compensation for a very long time. That's why the AMPTP is fighting so hard - they know that whatever gets written in here is going to get the magic title of incumbency. If the WGA settles for $1200 you're never going to move far off that number. It will be the precedent. All future conversations will be in comparison to that number, just as today we're comparing $1200 to $20,000, and when you get your 10% raise in 2011 you'll go up to $1320. Hooray.

fresne said...

I'm a writer, but not the kind of writer that belongs to the WGA. I write technical documentation for companies with online portals and have done so for the the last nine years. While the pay for internet advertising is a little different than what I've heard discussed (tv/print's model is eyeballs, the internet model is click-thru), umm... yeah... every time I read that this is a new industry that has'nt been built out/proven out or whatever, I have to think that the last decade of my career must have been a dream. The media delivery method may be new, but fundamentally how online advertising works is not.

The idea that advertisers wouldn't pay premium rates targeted advertising is a little odd to me. Internet ads enable:
a) Metrics based estimations on returning consumers (i.e., not nielson guesses, but estimations based on aggregatable metrics for every unique internet visit & visitor)
b) Content that can be sliced to support ad presentation (banners, ad words, islands, interstitial pages between episodes sliced into five to ten minute segments, popups, etc.)
c) In a medium that supports targeted advertising that can be on the fly paired with the content the consumer is seeing at that moment
d) Highly aggregatable reporting on exactly kind of consumers viewing the content, which in turn supports even better targeting of advertising, which in turn guarantees better pull through, which in turn makes the advertiser more money for their ad. (or put more simply, an ad during the world series may be seen by a lot of eyeballs, but what really matters is if that ad can be tied to more revenue. Internet advertising, when not branding identity related, can be.)

But then again, from the other side of the process, that kind of portal site is the holy grail.

Given the speed with which the internet moves, and the increasing permeability between what is "tv" and what is "online" (internet and t.v. from the same set of cables, etc.), I'd say the only thing preventing a fundamental paradigm shift before the next MacWorld is the inherent nature of large corporations to move at the speed of vegetable empires. Beyond that, both demand and technology exist to not so much kill tv, but transform it into it's next shape. Whatever deal the Writer's (and by proxy everyone else) end up with should account for that. Or hope that one of the internet giants decides now would be a good time to get into media production. The DGA deal is a good starting point, but knowing how hungry advertisers are for relevant repeat traffic sites, probably not the best end point. We'll see.

Slipstream said...

I'm not going to mince words: I think we should continue striking for a better deal. Our leverage is only growing with the scuttling of the Golden Globes and a potentially picketed Oscars around the corner. And the studios are horrified by the prospect of the actors walking out. The DGA deal, as I see it, guts residuals as we know them. Internet viewers - right now and in the future - will get their fill of any tv show or movie long before the free promo timeline expires; and that $1,200 threshold is a joke. John Wells may disagree, but his unabashed gushing over the DGA deal is cause for serious concern, not endorsement.

Small wonder the companies want to come back to the table now: they've got the template for a royal ass-****ing ready to present us. Yes, I'm happy we're going to start negotiating again. No, I don't think we can get the Worldwide Pants deal. But I believe with continued solidarity we can get a hell of a lot closer to it than the scraps on the table now. This writer's vote: keep pushing, keep fighting for what we deserve.

B said...

Slipstream -

I do understand where you're coming from but...scuttle the Grammys and Oscars and - rightly or wrongly - writers lose 80% of whatever fan base we have. I'm at home, just me and the TV and a bunch of newspapers most of the day - CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, MSNBC, the NYT, the WSJ plus, of course, all the trades and the LAT - they are all taking the line that the DGA made a good deal and that the AMPTP has made the conciliatory move of coming back to the table. Whatever you may think of the leanings of any or all of these outlets, the vast majority of the country is going to get their info from them.

I come from middle America and there are Grammy parties and Oscar parties, not so much for the artistic merit but to see the people and make sarcastic remarks about their clothes or swoon over Clooney. I guarantee you that people will lay blame at the door of the WGA if the Gr and AA go down.

Plus, I'm not 100% sure you get total solidarity from SAG on the Oscars or even from the WGA. The AA ain't the GG.

I'm not saying sign the deal, I am saying consider very carefully the next moves.

Best to all.

Watcher said...

I have to agree with the "Wait and see? Are you nuts?" people.

Three years from now:

Writers: "Now that we all have a better idea of how things work, we want to raise those ridiculous residual rates."

AMPTP: "No."

Is there anyone in their right mind who thinks that won't happen? For the love of god, anyone?

Our only option in three years will be to STRIKE AGAIN.

Who's going to have the stamina for another bloody war then? No, we'll be "revisiting" this twenty years from now, if ever. That's how long it took for the pain to build up from 1988.

It's now or never. And that's the AMPTP's fault, not ours.

I'm sorry to say it. I wanted to believe in this.

Brian said...

Brandon -

Your comments don't go unnoticed. But I do think that here are several points to point out.

While IPTV has been around in a sense for awhile - it was not technologically possible to do what has become possible in the last year or two. I worked on the development of several projects in 2002 - things which have been achieved and can be done now - but the ability to encode HD Quality signals and deliver them to the masses - was not yet feasible or possible back then. They were ideas ahead of their time. Today, it is all coming to pass. And more.

The advances made over the past decade have been massive. But, the advances which once took years, now take weeks or months. The whole game is changing so fast - its hard to stay on top of it.

I don't think that anyone is seriously advancing that TV or the theater going experience will end tomorrow. But what is happening is that the lines are being blurred.

If a Theatrical movie is delivered to the theater digitally over the internet - where does that fall? Is it internet content or a traditional Theatrical use? I think that there are logical arguments to call it either - or both. The problem is that The studios have used the blurred area's or emerging to deny or delay payments. That is why semantics and clarity are so very important.

As much as some of the people who post here say - They don't watch reruns or won't watch shows on the internet - The reality is that a New Generation that has grown up in the internet age -does not have the same viewing habits as the generations before.

The ipod, DVR, Internet, iTunes, Netflix, etc have created a new way of watching entertainment. And Time Shifting - is the way it is going. People want to watch what they want when they want it - not according to the Thursday night Must see TV model.

The problem is that all sides of this industry want conflicting things - That is, in some ways they want things to change and in some ways they want things to stay the same. The conflict comes, because both sides of the debate can't agree on what should change and what should stay the same.

The best end game ( one that will not happen at this juncture) Is to get rid of the entire business model and create it from the ground floor up. Start from scratch. People who make a lot of money under this current system will not want that to change - because the present day loss is unacceptable to them.

Those who look long term can see that there are models which can benefit everyone - top to bottom - but that means looking beyond opening weekend grosses and Overnight Ratings.

Alas, I don't think this will happen within the hollywood structure. The Studios don't want to share the wealth and the workers don't want to share the risk. Undestandable - but shortsighted.

I believe you can see this happening elsewhere, and it will continue, outside the Hollywood system. And since Hollywood Studios and networks no longer have a monopoly over distribution - a partnership approach is do-able and can thrive.

If out of the box thinking doesn't start happening soon and the parties don't realize that Fellow crew members or studios or anyone who is part of making entertainment are not the enemy - and that we all need to start thinking like everyone involved is a partner to the process - All the old guard may wake up one day to find that they missed the boat.

mheister said...

If my guild, SAG, negotiates a deal on a par with the DGA deal, I will vote no.

The WGA can, should, and really must do better than the DGA. Significantly better. I certainly hope that's the position they take, and that SAG backs them up.

Neither the WGA nor SAG are under any obligation to accept a "pattern" set by the DGA deal.

And I know I counseled patience on this, but the Internet payout numbers and percentages and schedules in the DGA agreement are just lousy. Cates did a piss-poor job negotiating those numbers, and he could have and should have gotten much much better.

MrKlaatu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glen said...

Thank you, Brian. The industry is in the middle of disorientating, painful change and it's wake up time.

Nick said...

At the end of a very long day, I've only come up with two conclusions.

1. John Wells has lost his mind. If his head goes any further up Barry Meyer's ass...I'm not writing the punchline until the strike is over.

2. After this weekend, we need a series of town-hall style meetings before even informal negotiations begin.

duze said...

As a first time wga visitor, love all the discourse. Got optimistic today about the potential to go back to work on my show, then came here to have my hopes squashed by the comments. And so it goes. One rational question about the $1200 rate that everyone finds so intolerable. Does anyone actually think that there is a chance to get this number to something more comparable to the $20,000 broadcast rate? I'm not asking about right vs. wrong, mind you. I know what would be right. I'm being a realist. Given the starting point, that's not happening. And I'm not sure I want to strike three more months for $1500 instead of $1200. Not enough of a life changer for any generation. Though, yeah, sometimes moral victories are delicious.

MT said...

If the AMPTP does indeed give the WGA the same deal, without making it an ultimatum, then there may be reason for hope. It depends, I suspect, on what happens with reality and animation jurisdiction and the sympathy strike clause.

Would the WGA be willing to give up the strike clause for an improved new media formula? Given the reaction to "this" strike, I have doubts the AMPTP will negotiate on that particular issue.

I personally, speaking as a fan and not a worker in the industry, hope the writers prevail on the jurisdictional issues. It would be of great help in preventing another strike, or keeping any new strike shorter, if not sweeter.

I was shocked to learn that animation was not already under WGA jurisdiction. Last I checked, animated feature films had both a storyline and dialogue--IOW, a screenplay. Why should it be treated any differently because the characters are rendered rather than portrayed?

Reality writers are a different kettle of fish, but still fish. Most reality programing has "some" writing, and if the working conditions reality writers currently endure is fact, then bringing them into the fold is both good strategy and a humanitarian effort.

Which is the very long way of saying, stay strong! Not all fans will object to the strike lasting longer, provided it means you get a fair deal.

skippy said...

i'm also in sag, and have been watching (and walking the lines w/you guys) since the beginning.

i agree w/mheister, this is a terrible deal, and if my guild gets this deal i'll vote no.

as to those who insist that the internet won't be the distribution system of choice any time soon, i must tell you that my last two tv's both had a port on the side to plug a computer cable into.

right now i could (if i was technically savvy) run a cable from my wireless lap top to my 46 inch samsung tv and watch streaming net flix, and entire shows from abc.com.

it's going to be a matter of months, not decades, before the industry presents a user-friendly home entertainment/computer configuration (they've already experimented with a reclining lounge chair w/a keyboard).

and to those who say, hey, the $1200 is a good starting point, i say, that's what my guild said 20 years when we got a lousy cable deal; and we still have a lousy cable deal.

sure cates jumped at this deal...he wants to direct the oscars next month!

stand fast, and if you keep walking the lines, i'll be there with you guys!

future screenwriter said...

hey writers.... what do you think of what's coming on Yahoo TV?

http://tv.yahoo.com/collections/3946

The future of new media is now. Stay strong WGA!

Craig B said...

Cheers for the reply MrKlaatu. The thing is, I reckon when there's a deadlock an out-of-left-field solution is often an icebreaker. So no harm throwing ideas around, even if they've been thought of before, and even if they're dumb or unworkable. As we know, ideas are often a numbers game - monkeys and typewriters.

And seeing it's the ettiquite de jour - I'll disclose: I no longer write for broadcast, being a novelist now, and an Aussie to boot.

Bottom line for me: new media (on-demand, active consumption) is the distribution platform early adopters are already using and the rest of the industrialised world is moving quickly toward. TV is a dinosaur that doesn't know the meteor has already hit. I don't watch it any more - the alternatives are just too convenient. Of course the congloms are aware of this. Look what has happened to the music industry. And there's a reason why media barons are divesting themselves of broadcast properties and buying up things like online casinos (I'm thinking the Packer empire here in OZ - Rupert Murdoch's old jousting partner).

So to privelage TV residuals over online ones just feels like the VHS mistake all over again. Making TV the main game is appropriate now, but the field will be very different in five years, let alone ten. I do strongly believe that a deal needs to be as platform independant as possible, and linked to the revenue a broadcast instance earns (eg: distributors gross) rather than to where or how something is shown. In some cases a show might make more money on the net than it will on TV - and that scenario will only become more and more common.

I'll now take my horribly mixed metaphors and cross a bridge before I burn it.

Craig B said...

Hey Brandon,

Of course TV will go away - the only thing to debate is the timeframe. And in terms of the next negotiations - well, these ones seem to be setting the scope for the next round. Some futureproofing is called for.

Check out this graph of the number of internet hosts (a good gauge of usage) in the last decade:

http://www.isc.org/index.pl?/ops/ds/hosts.php

Want to guess what it will look like in another decade's time?

TV is not waving but drowning, sprawled out on a tangerine vinyl lounge wearing acid wash jeans, a thin leather tie, and thinking how rad Milli Vanilli's latest 7 inch is. Meanwhile, the internet is doing Ice with Britney and adopting third world children so it can name them Zohar or Yoghurt.

makomk said...

DLJ:
"I'm also a little bothered by the notion that if the content is cheap enough, they don't have to hire within the union. There's no equivalent within film or TV is there? No matter how low-budget the movie, signatories must hire within the union. Why allow this low-budget loophole here?"

As people have pointed out on here endlessly, the internet is not like film or TV. There's no reason why you have to go through the existing entrenched producers and broadcasters.

A few people are already making money from low-budget Internet productions. I suspect what the AMPTP members are scared of is that some business (either a new one or an existing one that's not part of the current TV and film industry) will figure out how to make lots of money out of them, and the AMPTP members will essentially be priced out of the market by their union contracts.

Emily said...

The DGA and the ATPCPP (I still can't.....haha sorry) have always had a close relationship. They have always been able to strike a deal

Can I be completely annoying and try to look at the bright side by saying we don't have to wait for two strikes to end now? lol

Michael said...

I think Gil Cates made a hasty deal in hopes the WGA membership would collapse under the pressure. Remember, his only real priority is to produce the Oscars.

PJ McIlvaine said...

Everybody take a deep breath and step back.

This is not the WGA deal. This is the DGA deal.

I say we look at what's good in it for WRITERS, discard the rest, and step it up. That's what Verrone and his team are doing right now, I bet--the team that WGA membership overwhelmingly put its collective faith and trust in. Let him do his job, the job he was voted to do.

We all want the strike to end, WGA members, wanna be WGA members, kids who don't even know yet that they want to be screenwriters, BTL, actors, fans, everyone and anyone who is hurting.

There is no deal on the table for the WGA to accept---if DGA members love this deal, let them ratify it.

Also, keep in mind that some who may be pushing for the WGA to accept this sort of contract, if offered, may not have the same agenda as the rank and file.

As the WGA painfully learned with video and DVD's, you get one bite of the apple. This is the apple. Either go down trying or live crying.

B said...

This will be my last post here (sound of loud hurrahs) because it is obvious that this board and I have parted ways.

A little reality here, guys and gals - Beyonce has announced she is attending the Gr - others will follow. For a moment visualize the WGA - which is now being portrayed as having been invited back to negotiations - picket line on national TV harassing music stars as they go into the Gr.

Lots of showrunners and stars, people that middle America actually recognizes have said now is the time to get the town back to work. Trust me, there will not be 100% compliance with an AA picket line.

As for Gil Gates, yeah right, his only concern is directing the Oscars, we writers are the only ones with any sense or morals.

Here's an idea: stay on strike until June waiting for SAG and in the meantime lose everything you hold dear and force others to do the same. This has never been about the future, this has been about getting a piece of the action - hey, I want a bite of the apple as much as the next guy but we want make back in three years what we will lose in the next three months.

Agitate, send more pencils, make more videos, watch public and BTL support evaporate and many important, respected writers go Fi-Core.

Spend the rest of your lives being the aggrieved parties complaining about receiving no respect.

I'm out of here and by that I mean - I'm out of here.

Oh yeash, I almost forgot - since I have a different point of view - "shill, troll, shill, troll"

Josh said...

I guess Mazin et. al have really gone over. I guarantee you the AMPTP is rubbing their hands together with joy that a prominent WGA blogger is public in support of this lame deal. The next time the WGA goes on strike it really needs to stress a blackout on openly airing discussions that go on between Guild members during a negotiation. Blithely filling in your (negotiating) enemy on the dissension in your ranks does nothing but ensure you will get a worse deal than otherwise ... every time someone goes forward and says the WGA should take whatever deal, all it does is entrench the other side and make them think they don't have to bring any more to the table.

Part of the AMPTP's negotiating strength is that we have no idea what they're actually thinking or how far they're actually willing to go - all we can do is speculate. It's a huge advantage in any negotiation to know what cards the other side is holding and what their feelings/inclinations about them are ... we on the labor side often blithely give them that advantage by airing our dirty laundry in public. I'm sure ABC isn't happy that Fox has locked up the season with American Idol while Grey's sits on the sidelines ... but you don't see them snipping at each other in public about how they might just give their writers a better deal or encourage the other big networks to compromise. Only we do that.

Not that anyone didn't think that certain members of our community weren't going to go crazy over whatever deal came through, even if it only offered popcorn and pretty beads in exchange for the entire residual package. But all they're doing is ensuring that the better deal stays in the briefcase. Maybe this is the best the WGA can get - maybe it is what we eventually settle for. But you don't say that until it's over ... you certainly don't blow your negotiating advantage from within.

David said...

FYI, internet streaming, distribution and anything involving the internet does NOT have "no cost" associated with the distribution.

No, it may not be as much as plastic video tapes or DVD's, but the price of streaming media and offering downloadable media is definitely not free. yes, you're hosting a blog for free via Google, but that's just text and text is relatively inexpensive and Google is willing to eat it in order to get you to use their products that they make money on.

The data rates and server rates for streaming and downloads is really rather expensive. Unless you're using a peer to peer method of distribution (and most aren't, at least not yet) then you're using all of your own bandwidth. There's a reason YouTube has crap quality and that's because it's increasingly expensive the higher your quality. And YouTube before they were bought by Google was clocking $20+million in bandwidth/server fees for small-form content. If they were hosting high quality full TV shows and movies, it would be even more.

It might even be more expensive than DVD manufacturing honestly. Nobody's terribly sure yet, not even the studios.

It's difficult to compare download and streaming sizes to bandwidth and their prices, but...

Assuming a fairly standard industry price of $30/mbit per second per month, an average of 300kbit/s for a typical streaming broadcast and 1,000 simultaneous users (a very low figure of success) you're going to need 300mbit/s worth of bandwidth, and thus $9,000 worth of bandwidth per thousand users. (simultaneous, not aggregate)

This price does not go down, the more you buy. Most internet companies aren't in the business of giving discounts. This also doesn't include the overhead for equipment and staffing obviously, which could run in the hundreds of thousands per month as well.

the benefit to the companies is that they can spread out this fairly large cost across the entire spectrum of the shows they provide on a single service. This reduces the cost per user, but simultaneously reduces the income per user.

It's not cheap, at least not yet. It's also not profitable, at least not yet. That all has a potential to change, but bandwidth in the US at least has been a pretty sad story for the last 10 years. It's been expensive for things like that, which is why peer-to-peer technologies have been such a great thing for users.

So, to say that it's got no manufacturing cost is not telling the whole story. I know it's good to reinforce your position with the most impressive language possible, but as a person working in TV at a place that does streaming video... I guarantee you that it ain't free and the overhead is really massive right now.

annfan said...

David, you said a mouthful and hit the nail on the head about the cost of bandwidth!

Plus, the fragile infrastructure just is not going to support a full-scale conversion of TV to internet. Even cable depends on telephone lines for switching, and the system is taxed to its limit now as it is! How often have you found a station blocked or cable interrupted, because of some technical issue?

What about cost of litigation to protect copyrights? Haven't we seen the erosion of a huge empire, that of musical cd production, because of illegal downloads in our generation? Writers want to a percentage off the top, but would they be willing to pay toward protecting their copyrighted material? They depend on the broadcast companies for this.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense about the financial reporting now being transparent. There's nothing to hide for the media companies - internet ain't all that, and they're likely not realizing a tremendous profit yet!

Remember, Amazon lost $$ for years before it turned around and became profitable. There were few internet companies that survived, once the bubble burst in 2000, and the freely flowing capital stopped.

Just my humble opinion.
Louise

Brandon said...

Thank you, David! Also, respect for your point of view, brian. I'm not necessarily a wait and see person but, remaining resistant in light of an ever-changing medium could drag this thing on for years. Frankly, wherever technology stands today is not where its going to stand in 3 years. So, best to deal with what you know today and not what you hope is going to happen a year from now.

As for all of this, "hey, look at yahoo!tv" and "my tv has a vga port on the side" madness, it sounds like the hens on the view gassing over some new-fangled thing they came across. Seriously, aside from the costs that David so accurately laid out (because everyone seems to think that the internet is free and decent content delivery is just a bonus feature), go ahead and look at yahoo! tv. See the quality of that video? Imagine hooking that up to your 42 inch hd plasma tv using your shiny new vga/dvi/hdmi port. It's just gonna look worse. Now, you're telling me that majority of middle america is gonna wanna watch their favorite shows at that quality over current tv standards? I think thats a stretch. Again, the cost and efficiency with which to deliver decent (far from HD) quality broadcasts to millions of viewers simultaneously over the "internet" is currently mind-numbing, at best. And that is beyond dealing with the numerous ISP's out there who will have to shoulder the blame or deal with the tech support when people keep getting "buffering..." every 5 minutes while trying to watch their shows.

Cable and DirecTV are still broadcast, albeit primarily satellite, delivered through their own isolated networks. They are not internet. Their on-demand services are not internet. It's controlled and delivered through their isolated network. So, I imagine those will continue to function on TV terms.

ABC.com, hulu, and things of the like are great timewasters and fit the bill when you want to have a little window open to watch something while you're otherwise engaged. They contribute to click-thru advertising, bcuz they own that piece of real estate on your desktop and can pretty much subliminally control you through that little window. Converting that to function on a grand scale is not as simple and will not be as widely embraced as some people seem to think.

5 networks trying to deliver several hours of original content to millions of viewers at the same time...come on. You'd have to be insane or believe that flying cars will come into wide-use existence within the next 3 years to believe that is gonna happen. Yes, people want to watch their tv when they want, but if the model is "Download and watch this show now - Estimated download time: 4-8 hours", thats not gonna win. And if nightly viewing is potentially hampered by your kid in the other room downloading music or camming with their friends, thats not gonna win. The viability of that model as efficient is only pertinent to a currently small subset of the overall viewing public.

Writers, go ahead and fight the good fight and make sure you cover your bases, but I have to agree with the others here who see the public support swinging dramatically in the other direction over the next few weeks as you drag this on. And don't get hung up on technology. It's gonna screw everyone. Thats the nature of the beast. The internet is gonna hurt you as much as you think its gonna help you.

Joseph said...

Wow! It's ludicrously expensive to transmit video over the internet! The technology will never reach the point where it's anywhere close to profitable! Geez, these companies must be insane for wanting to pursue New Media!!

Yeah right.

Here's an idea, to all you looking to protect the interests of the conglomerates... just pay writers a percentage for ad-supported free streaming video instead of this proposed flat fee of $1200/ year.

They lose money, we lose money. Sounds fair. That will help with all the "uncertainty" there is surrounding the future of this mind-boggling series of wires and tubes.

Jon Raymond said...

Why are posters trying to convince us that there is no danger of quality programming streaming over the net anytime soon? Who are they trying to convince? Who are they?

I'm not saying they're shills. But why are they saying they aren't? Why the defensive attitudes?

If this streaming is not going to happen then there's no problem to pay writers a percentage of ad revenues, right? Like Joseph says, they make money, writers make money. If it doesn't happen nobody loses.

But what if it does happen? What if these posters are not techo geniuses? I don't see their credentials here. Any jackass can write a post that claims high bandwidth streaming will never happen anytime soon.

I'm in the tech industry and I hear the opposite. It's not just that technology moves fast. But the rate of technological advances is increasing. The advance that took three years to happen in the past will only take a year now, and a year from now it'll only take a few months.

Besides, fiber optic cable has been around a long time already. The high bandwidth infrastructure is already in place. What's missing is what they call the final mile, the mile from your service provider to your house.

What do you bet the minute AMPTP studios start streaming, that mile will suddenly be fixed and everyone will have high bandwidth.

But it would be especially nice for studio heads if they can save a few extra million on writers. Just more bucks to put into those $27M exec pay raises.

It may be expensive right now for an individual customer, but what do AMPTP companies care about that expense? It's nothing for them considering the potential of the entire web to rake in revenue. Bandwidth isn't a problem for YouTube. How many film do they stream a minute?

The cost will decrease as technology improves anyway, and I'm talking in terms of months not years.

What if writers agree to this pitiful $1200 cut back from the $20000 they have on TV? It's just one more knife in their back. Add the other possibilities of low budget programming, or their new ability to hire non-union writers, and WGA members are royally screwed.

This must be carefully studied and writers should never fall for this smoke screen.

Cyber said...

Guys, I'm not a Guild member. In fact, I'm Canadian.

But I'm an aspiring writer and will own a company soon ('soon' being a subjective term), and have been following the discussions and news here closely since the past 2 weeks.

To my understanding:
This is all a legal battle. Lawyers fighting lawyers in a mind-game of chess.

However, as some have adequately pointed out, 'their side' is a company setup where the point is to ad value -not to be fair. Their side is also comprised of a few individuals who are technically competitors but who are working together for the sake of mutual gains.

This means that any strategy, or problems, that they encounter with the situation is something they keep to themselves, as a show of strength in case they're preyed upon by their 'teammates' during an open moment of weakness during the strike.

Example:
Is a single reality show bringing in alot of money right now? Possibly.
Are the other companies losing money, possibly more money than the one station with the biggest audience because of their reality show? Probably?

Are the other stations going to complain? Definitely not. Why? Because if they do, then it shows weakness, and the congloms better positioned to withstand a longer strike draw things out a bit more to buy out their competition in the event of a major stock value loss, or whatever.

You see, each big AMPTP member is putting up a front, and not showing any signs of weakness at all. The weakness may be glaringly obvious, but those members aren't presenting themselves as though they're worried, just to try and hold a position of strength. And they can do that, because they are only a handful who can communicate internally without having to do anything in public.

With the WGA, on the other hand, that's another story. The WGA is too large, and too spread-out, for purely internal communications. They *have* to do some communications publicly, and that becomes public knowledge. Then we have the fans, the moles, and everyone else who are voicing opinions out in the open, and the AMPTP is using all that to gauge the situation.

It's a game of chess where one side is poker-faces with calculating moves, and the other is this large group of people all openly debating moves and voicing their opinions and and complaints in public, and the 'other side' is reading all this like an open book. They also have the added advantage of throwing a few seeds of doubt here and there just to cause more confusion. And they can do that because they're powerful and rich. Anything to win the game, you know? That's what 'add value' means. That's also why they're so secretive about their own problems -fear.

But being the smart people that they are (hey, we've got to give them *some* credit, otherwise the strike would be over by now), and having 'legal strategists' (lawyers) who know the rules of the game inside and out, and know how to read (and play) the people, they also know how to take something apart and re-present it in different packaging, with slightly different details, to produce the same thing once it's built: a deal of the same level.

Something I've learned from playing strategy card games (believe it or not), is that a single card on it's own might seem worthless. However, add a few single cards together in the right combination, and you get a good combo. Work a deck around the theme of that combo, and you can have an incredibly well-working deck that can beat the opponent.

But if you just show your deck to the other player without telling them how to work it to the fullest potential, they might not see the power behind it. If they use your deck without knowing how to use it to the fullest potential, they can get royally beaten.


Now consider this: The AMPTP has been holding out on certain things that they class as unreasonable proposals by the WGA. To be able to withstand a strike this long, that means the AMPTP is incredibly stubborn/dumb, or what they're trying to deny you is incredibly valuable.

However, it doesn't look valuable in the short-term -at least not enough to strike this long over. Yet, the AMPTP still doesn't want to give it.

So, what do they know that you don't?

They can't be doing this out of spite, because that's not how they work. 'Add value' doesn't mean throwing a fit and watching your profit and stock values go down the drain, as well as your public image.

Now thinking about it, with the internet, the only real thing stopping high-speed is on the ISPs' end. They're not equipped to handle that kind of load. However, couldn't upgrading to 64bit processors handle that easily?

But what incentive do they have to do that? At the moment, web access, low-quality videos, and gaming is all the internet is used for, right? Probably not... but that's all I can think of for now. Then we also have piracy, and tv series' and movies being downloaded with torrents and P2P. With faster internet, all that would become faster too.

Unless the congloms have a plan.

With current technology, you can hook your tv up to the internet. With the internet, you can watch shows without schedules and buy movies and series' without having the physical discs.

Now if the speed from the ISPs kick up, then suddenly you can watch any program you want when you want it, and buy or rent any series or movie instantly.

Now someone pointed out the cost of internet distribution and production, but what I'd like to see is a comparative cost chart between airing a popular show on the tv vs. on the internet, distribution-wise.

The congloms wouldn't be holding out this long unless there were *some* singificant amount of money to be made.

Either they're all fools, or they believe that the money they're sacrificing now is worth the gains they'll be making by holding back on the WGA's demands.

Think about it, and so some research.

annfan said...

Here's a couple quotes to assure you writers traditional tv isn't going away. It's the studios who are scared because of piracy issues:

"This year, retailers and studios alike feared that online piracy, which has undermined the music industry, would devastate the television and movie businesses, too. As such, both groups sought to come up quickly with digital strategies that would make it easier for consumers to buy movies and television shows online." - Wal-Mart Pulls Plug on Movies via the Web By MATT RICHTEL and BRAD STONE, New York Times, December 29, 2007 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/29/business/media/29movie.html?ref=business

"Even as their supply of new programs dwindles during the months-long writers' strike, major TV networks continue to try to capture online viewers . . . By giving consumers online access, networks have learned they can reinforce viewer devotion." - Websites make it easy to catch a missed TV show By Mike Snider, USA TODAY, January 21st, 2008 http://www.usatoday.com/tech/webguide/2008-01-21-websites-tv-shows_N.htm

"At the heart of the service will remain linear TV channels, delivering structured programming at fixed times of the day and interspersed with commercials, promotions, trailers and branding." - Automation in today's multichannel world, Broadcast Engineering .com, Jan 16,

2008, Paragraph 5 http://broadcastengineering.com/automation/automation_todays_multichannel_world/index.html

"The logistical problems Ari [Paparo, vice-president of rich media for interactive advertising agency DoubleClick] talked about include, as he colorfully put it, "a witches brew of technologies that no one understands." This pertains to everything from the video players used to present the main IPTV content to the type of ad server used to reliably insert advertising into the content." - Interactive ad exec: more precise metrics needed for IPTV profitability, by Russell Shaw, ZDNet .com, March 21st, 2007 http://blogs.zdnet.com/ip-telephony/?p=1480

Studios are just as concerned about surviving environment of technical advances as you are. They're not communicating to you. They're big corporatations - how can they admit they're scared? Maybe they're scared what happened to traditional music will happen to them, and the major studios will become obsolete! That wouldn't be nice for them or for you. They're clutching at straws to post free or low-cost content to compete with illegal downloads. I don't think it's a planned strategy to chinz out the unions the way many who post here see it! But the strike may be perceived as lack of loyalty. Compassion on both sides may foster a sympathetic atmosphere to find a solution where everybody benefits!

This is LA - the greatest planet in the world! It's gotta happen!

MrKlaatu said...

Brandon wrote: "Cable and DirecTV are still broadcast, albeit primarily satellite, delivered through their own isolated networks. They are not internet. Their on-demand services are not internet."

Sorry. You are wrong. DirecTV recently launched their On-Demand service. To use it you must connect your DirecTV box to your home network. All shows and movies watched using it are downloaded using your Internet connection (that you pay for). The programs are seemlessly integrated into your DVR's playlist and are of full (even HD) quality.

The companies could, in theory, say that this is Internet streaming (which it technically is) and apply these new residual formulas to it. We need to protect against this.

If you don't believe me, read about on DirecTV's site:

http://www.directv.com/dod/dod.html

Please do your research before you post.

brazilian girls said...

Many of you have forgotten that this is not about the WGA. You may say, sure, that it creates a precedence, but remember that in television directors are not the auteurs that one sees in film.

Directors are lower on the 'totem pole' in terms of 'importance' which is calculated from perceived 'creativity'. They are below writers, they are below talent.

They don't have as much a creative personal interest in the content. No offense, as many directors on set are fabulous and skilled to work with. So it would make sense however, that their deal is much different and much less than the WGA's.

You can test this - go to any mall in the middle of the country and ask people to name you an actor on tv. Undoubtably they will. Then ask them to name a showrunner or writer on tv. Multiple people will say the word 'Shonda', I kid you not. But ask them to name a director? You will be hard pressed to find just one name.