Robert J. Elisberg: Looking at the DGA Deal Memo

Robert Elisberg continues his excellent "Strike Primer" series on HuffPo. As he points out:

The DGA offer remains subject to analysis once the full numbers are made known. From the press release, there appear enough good and encouraging points that are highly-worth negotiating towards a settlement, and that's wonderful. But as a final offer for writers? No, there are serious problems in the release that need to be addressed.

Mostly, though, it's important that there was a DGA settlement, period. This allows the proper process of dealing with the strike to finally (hopefully) move forward. What exists is only an offer to the non-striking Directors Guild. There are certainly enough positives in the DGA offer that create a starting point for writers, with their very-different concerns. There is also far too much that must be addressed. But (hopefully) it will. And now that the AMPTP corporations are at last willing to discuss whether to discuss, that's the best thing of all.

In the end, anyone moping that this is a sell-out, with nothing good, that's hyperbole. Anyone dancing on rooftops that this is a great deal for writers, with nothing bad, that's hyperbole and just as harmful. Especially since we don't even know the deal yet. It appears to be a good, worthy start. But - it's just a start. Now, the negotiations begin.

Read the full article here.


M. C. Valada said...

As an attorney with a lot of experience in publishing law as well as entertainment law (and stints as a law clerk at both the WGA and the DGA), I think it is foolish to settle for a flat residual rate without using the publishing paradigm of it being an advance against future royalties. Better to settle for for a lower advance with Download One applied to the back-end than to let the studios garner to themselves all the money that will flow over the first few days.

I'm reminded of the old joke about putting a marble in a jar for every time you make love during the first year of marriage and taking out a marble every time after that. I've heard you never take out all the marbles and I'm afraid that talent will never get anything close to what the studios hoard during that window they've reserved for themselves. The only way to make up for the loss of residuals from television reruns is to stick to a percentage of revenue from Download One and the fact that the studios are trying to divert that should indicate how much money they expect to make. It will be video tape and DVDs all over again.

Jason said...

M.C Valada is a freaking genius.


J. said...

Where is the full deal?

This is like being forced to give detailed notes on a script when we've only been allowed to read the coverage.

BJ said...

Does Robert Elisberg actually make a living writing for TV or movies? No. So who cares what he has to say?

Thomas said...


Do you make a living as a shill for the AMPTP? Yes. So who cares what YOU have to say?

I keep saying it, and I won't stop:


The studios MUST NOT be allowed ANY WAY to stream a broadcast-quality or near-broadcast-quality signal NO MATTER WHAT THEY CALL IT unless writers are paid a fair residual on that stream.

Because I promise you this... the lowest residual they can pay on a broadcast-quality stream is the only residual you will ever see.

BJ said...

Network Reruns program on TV:

-- millions of dollars in ad revenue
-- ratings close to original airing
-- no need to pay for new content

Network Reruns program on Internet:

-- a few bucks in ad revenue, if they're lucky
-- must pay for new content to fill the hole
-- loses worldwide syndications exclusivity.

Which makes more sense for a Network?

Calm down, people.

Justin said...

BJ, I think everyone here is aware that network reruns have only a few bucks (if they're streaming video) in revenue.

That's not the issue. The issue is that the studios will soon be able to place reruns on the internet exclusively, and that the potential for tv writers to get their residual checks will diminish tremendously. They will soon find the advertisers to support streaming video, as people will a certain level of money tend to be internet savy. (especially if they are under a certain age). That's why the WGA at one point was asking for a percentage of revenue from streaming video.

Thomas said...

I'm glad you were at least mensch enough not to deny being a shill, bj.

There's nothing about ad-supported streaming on the Internet that prevents the networks from showing re-runs on TV, so there's no hole there that's not of their own making. If it's a problem, they can stop the streaming.

And if internet streaming is no big deal, then giving the writers a percentage of that ad revenue is also no big deal.

But giving the networks ANY WAY to stream content at broadcast or near-broadcast quality without paying a fair residual is the end of residuals as we know it.

If the networks had any interest in dealing fairly with the people who create what they sell, they wouldn't even suggest it.

Bill said...

Hmmm... the link to the comparision seems to has gone bad. Could it be that this pdf was never meant for public viewing? Maybe it went down for editing?Leaking information to incite is no way to gain trust from the AMPTP OR WGA rank & file members.

Also there was no public link to the doc on the WGA site so what's up UH?

Frustrated Bystander said...

BJ --

Isn't it true for the studios, that the studios are resentful that they have to chase down their audience who are using the internet? They don't want to pay to get the same eyeballs that they used to get for free.

If you look at Hulu and other server sites that are being developed, the studios don't have to create new content. They just stream re-use. So your point about original content "gravitating slowly" to the internet doesn't hold water. If I were a network, I would capitalize on the content I had and monetize that. Why pay for new stuff when you can get eyeballs on the net to passively stream your content while reading e-mail, or downloading your boss's ppt or whatever. First run may not go up there, but second run definitely will be.

That's what the whole strike is about.

hollarback said...

I do bj. Nice moniker by the way.

Dan said...

Thomas is right again! BANDWIDTH!

All the money that supposedly going to be made is assuming all of America has a high bandwidth T-1 line in their home. I've watched some stuff on hulu and it is marginal viewing at best. There are tons of shows there I'd like to see but I won't because I can't watch a show that stutters occasionally and is all pixelated.

Take what you can get now with the caveat that when they are able to increase bandwidth to at least broadcast quality you get the full TV residual rate.

Please....... I really want to get back to work.

boadicea said...

Bill, you're the one who keeps saying the writers are too eager to subscribe to conspiracy theories.

Ironic, that, considering how quickly you jump to conclusions in advance of actual evidence.

Brian said...

Couple things that you have to understand -

There is more than a couple bucks in internet advertising. This year it as at $25 billion. Projections are, that do to the availability of television and movie content - Internet Ad spending will reach of Exceed $50 billion by 2011. That's billion with a B. Not all of it will go to Media - But a larger and larger percentage will. Because high quality streaming and downloadable media is what consumers want.

Second - A whole generation is growing up getting content on the internet. The Quality levels are improving constantly - and kids don't care as much about the quality. The newest generation is turning away from traditional media platforms in droves. Teenagers primary source for music in the 1960's through 1980's - Radio. Toady MP3 players. Their two primary sources for all entertainment content - Video Games and the internet.

I also believe that the Studios did a little homework on projections of revenue from the internet.

If they were going to make only a few dollars per stream - Why on earth would they offer as much as they did?

If you take the assumption that there is very little money to be made as true- they would be jumping at the chance to take a percentage as the residual rate. It's good business sense.

Why pay $1200.00 when you could get away with paying $25.00? It's not because they think there is no money - it's because they know that there is a ton of money and they do not want to share the massive profits.