1/19/2008

WGA Begins Back Channel Discussion With AMPTP

UH has learned that as of yesterday, the WGA began an informal dialogue with one of the conglom bosses. The conversations were cordial and respectful on both sides.

This is the way that the DGA talks began -- with informal consultations at a high level between leaders on both sides. It is not negotiation, it's the precursor to negotiation, but the good news is that what Patric Verrone, David Young and John Bowman said at the captain's meeting yesterday appears to be very true: we are finally at a moment where the companies are ready to start seriously bargaining.

A letter was sent to membership last night, asking everyone to be patient and calm as we move forward. As frustrating as it is to wait, it's the best way to get the best deal possible.

From this point forward, if things go well, there will be little to print until the two sides move into formal negotiations -- and we shouldn't take that silence to mean anything negative. The WGA is crunching the numbers, everyone is communicating, and there's every reason to be hopeful.

And although there's a wide spectrum of opinion on the DGA deal, from embracing it to hating it, there's one thing that all commentators seem to agree on -- it was the WGA strike that made the gains possible. We provided the leverage that allowed the DGA to get things (like distributor's gross) that no one believed were possible, and that the DGA would not have even asked for without the backdrop provided by the strike.

Let's make this moment count by staying focused, calm, and ready to listen. [If you're wondering where the "endgame" comment is, I took it out because I realized it was a bad choice of words. I didn't mean in any way to suggest that we let up the pressure. -- LK] Stay on the lines, keep picketing, keep the pressure on. There's room here for the DGA deal to be used as a pattern but still get things that are specific needs and concerns of writers. We just have to let our leadership do the job.

82 comments:

4merBTLer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Geo Rule said...

Stay calm, stay strong.

And I really hope that improvement is made on the jurisdictional issues rather than just trading them wholesale.

Fred said...

"This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is definitely the end... of the beginning."

Winston Churchill

Thomas said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

BANDWIDTH LIMITS

If the conglomerates are serious about ad-supported streaming being "promotional," then they shouldn't mind restricting the paltry residual they've offered to streams that don't carry enough data to play on TV.

I don't think it's so bad accepting their crappy residual for promotional streaming into a little window on one's computer (though I don't see why the WGA can't get a percentage even then), but if it carries enough data to be just an alternate method of delivery, then the residual must be the same.

marc said...

to quote Joss Whedon et. al.

Anya: I was being patient, but it took too long

Seriously, great work in managing this strike and the public relations associated with it. Or John, the staff writer for that Jewish Guy said "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Dogpedal said...

I can only hope that both sides not only maintain a level of civility towards one another, but refrain from negotiating via blogs or incendiary public statements....

Joss Whedon said...

I'd actually like to be the guy that rains on this parade. The use of the word "Endgame" is very dangerous. Even if these back-channel discussions are the route to serious negotiations, it could be weeks -- months -- before anything is resolved. And that's assuming the AMPTP isn't about to unveil yet another bullying tactic to draw this out even more. "Endgame" sends the wrong message to the WGA members. We need, now as much as ever, to act as if the strike is NEVER going to end. We need the rage that sends us out onto the picket lines, the passion that makes us look for alternate methods of financing and developing content, and the unity that reminds us how much the studios have taken from the community already by forcing this strike. As far as the WGA is concerned, the studios have not made one decision based on fair business practices. (Funny side-note: they've also abused writers as long as there has been filmed entertainment.) Some of the things that have been broken in these last months can never be fixed, some truths about the studios' power-grubbing inhumanity that can never be forgotten, or laughed over (as they have been for decades).

I'm honestly thrilled about the news. I'm as ready as anyone to get back to telling stories in the media I love. But the studios need to remember that I'm also ready not to.

This is not the end. And it was never a game.

Evan Waters said...

I remain hopeful. That they're willing to talk at all is a victory, so we're at least not still at square one.

Of course, getting them to talk shouldn't have been this hard, but now that they are there's at least the opportunity to make a deal.

I'll continue to pray for sanity and reason to triumph.

United Hollywood said...

Just chiming in to verify that yes, before anyone throws down the accusation, that really was Joss Whedon posting. He confirmed his "me-ness".

MGA said...

Pay to View = Identity Retention Value


PTV = IRV


Equalization Payments are the way.

B.M.Hemingway said...

I just hope that everyone can stay reasonable and know that - honestly - THIS VERY MOMENT is the best opportunity to make a fair and reasonable deal. If our guild membership starts getting hot headed with a non-cooperative attitude, we're gonna end up with the same (if not a worse) deal...

...except it'll be 9 months from now.

This strike has cost everyone enough money. Friends who are BTL and working class writers with kids are putting their houses up on the market.

Enough is enough. Let's all (execs, creatives and everyone inbetween) get serious and make a deal. When the gains outweigh the losses...nobody wins.

And for all the guild members who didn't lose their full time jobs because of the strike, who don't face foreclosure, who are living off their residuals OR who work other non-writing jobs and who AREN'T on the picket lines every day (don't even get me started about people who voted to authorize the strike, yet aren't walking the line)...please try to resist your, "F@&K this deal" instincts and realize that talk is cheap and foreclosures are real.

Let's pray that cooler heads prevail.

4merBTLer said...

Mr. Whedon,

I have to guess that most people, myself included, understand that this "endgame" could play out for some time.

What makes me happy is that we have entered a new phase of this process, which could possibly be the LAST phase. There is finally some movement, and that is surely encouraging.

I WISH the strike could end tomorrow (but I would be suspicious of such a rapid settlement). I would LOVE the strike to end by mid-March (with a good deal for the WGA). I HOPE the strike ends by the end of June (with good deals for both WGA and SAG). And I am mentally prepared for the strike to last as long as it must for you to get a good deal, even if I have to leave LA and fall back on one (or more) of my previous lives' skills.

So, you haven't rained on MY parade! :)

B.M.Hemingway said...

and of course when I said, "When the gains outweigh the losses...nobody wins." i meant:

When the losses outweigh the gain...nobody wins.

whopsadaises...

hotline said...

Are you censoring me? Cause if you are I'd appreciate you stopping it.

Justine Bateman said...

Is anyone reading this? This DGA "deal"?
Remember at the beginning of negotiations that distracting threat from the AMPTP about getting rid of residuals?
WELL, THIS DEAL DOES IT.
Are you all ready to trade an entire year's worth of residuals for an on-air show ( about 100-200K?I don't know) for $1200?
INSANE.
The DGA deal for Ad-supported streaming is based on current residuals, NOT upon the growing clicks shows are going to receive on-line. NOT upon the ad-revenue will will grow tremendously over the next three years. I think writer's make 20K (the same as director's, right?) on the FIRST PRIME-TIME RE-RUN. That's the FIRST re-run of the episode. Much more is made off that episode throughout the year.

So the Directors are ready to give up 97% of their FIRST prime-time residual in order that the corporations re-run their work for AN ENTIRE YEAR.
Listen, THE NETWORKS WILL NEVER, EVER RE-RUN YOUR WORK ON BROADCAST TV AGAIN if this deal is ratified.

If any variation of this deal is accepted by the WGA and (GOD forbid, SAG), you will see the laying of fiber-optics by the communications companies incredibly escalated. You will see BILLIONS of dollars spent on speeding up the hi-speed connections into people's homes.
The corporations will want EVERYBODY in the country to get the highest speed internet ASAP so the corporations, themselves, can cancel out broadcast TV in order to show EVERYTHING on the internet ONLY and NEVER PAY ANY OF US RESIDUALS AS WE KNOW IT AGAIN.
We will cancel out every single residual stride that was sacrificed for in the 60's in one swoop.
I think it's shameful.

It's been said (I've said it many times) that this moment is like the dawn of Television in the sense that the responsibility falls on us to establish the rates and terms for the internet. But I think the Corporations have been saying the same thing to themselves, but in the sense that when TV began THERE WAS NO RESIDUAL FORMULA.

Yes, the DGA deal is "ground-breaking" and "unprecedented" in the way your 40 year old gains will by positively ripped from you.
And "no roll-backs" means we'll roll you back so far that residuals will seem as far away as the Studio System.
"Substantial" is referring to the losses we'll all endure if our unions consider versions of this deal.

The content creators have lost millions upon millions on that crappy 20 year old DVD deal, but at least people could still make a decent living on the terms for TV and film production in addition to residual payments for TV re-use.
The internet re-use terms are paramount. This is not a "supplemental market". This is where we are going to work. This is where we are going to collect our money.

Just do one thing. One thing.
Look in your books for 2007. How much of your income consisted of residuals? Now do some math and ask yourself if you could get by if that number were reduced by 97%.
Just ask yourself that and come back and tell everyone you want that deal.

Miss Anthropy said...

Well, for the mean time, I wanted to let everyone know that the UCLA Film & Television Archive is resuming its screenings at the Billy Wilder Theater, and we're offering free admission to WGA members. Pay us a visit if you happen to be in Westwood.

www.cinema.ucla.edu has the list of screenings. Hope this doesn't count as advertisement-- just wanted to get the word out about my workplace!

hotline said...

The one conglom making back channel calls reminds me of how coyotes lure house pets out so they can eat them. One coyote leaves the pack and playfully jaunts around a backyard. Rex the trusting Lab thinks the coyote wants to play so he leaps out of the safety of his yard, then immediately the rest of the coyotes pounce and devour unsuspecting Jack.

I'm behind you leadership, but be careful.

NUNAYERG-DAMBIDNESS said...

With all due (read: very VERY much) respect to mr. Whedon, I think it''l be safe to say that the long memories and lack or forgiveness will be strong on both sides. It's at least possible that some of the more vehement (and/or vitriolic) WGA'ers may find it harder to cut deals with AMPTP companies in the future.

Both sides need to shuck some pride and get the town back to work.

Dennis Wilson said...

I'm less concerned about the "endgame" than taking it up the backchannel.

Hey-oooooh!

Geo Rule said...

Thinking about Animation and Reality, I had an epiphany for a way forward. I think it may be brilliant, in the sense that everyone will hate it, but possibly just a little bit less than they'd hate having jurisdiction on Reality & Animation be the roadblock that sinks everything.

First, remember, only rotten fruits and vegetables may be thrown. No metal objects!

Separate contract for Animation and Reality that runs 4.5 years instead of 3 years like the main deal. Think about what you get rather than what you give up before forming the lynch mob on that one. . .

Thomas said...

BANDWIDTH BANDWIDTH BANDWIDTH

BANDWIDTH BANDWIDTH BANDWIDTH

BANDWIDTH BANDWIDTH BANDWIDTH

The WGA *cannot* allow itself to get caught up in semantics. If ANY form of ad-supported streaming is allowed to have enough data to display on TV, it MUST have a residual at least as good as current broadcast residuals, or the WGA has lost and residuals are gone forever.

Let them do whatever they like with little YouTube-sized video postage stamps.

And a couple of comments. I think it's clear that Gil Cates has once again believed the moguls when they told him they were only going to put the tip of it in.

And to the AMPTP shill calling himself b.m. hemingway...

I'm totally on board with the BM part. Hemingway--not so much.

Hemi said...

Joss & Justine:

I think you guys are great, creative and talented people and both have provided me with a great deal of entertainment over the years. Additionally, I appreciate your passion for a fair deal.

But you may be just a smidge out of touch.

Joss: “…act as if the strike is NEVER going to end?” Seriously? Dude…the Buffy Money Train never stops by my place so – while I’d love to strike forever – it’s just not a luxury I have…and I don’t think I’m the only one. I mean no disrespect and believe you deserve every luxury that you’ve been afforded from creating your unique and exceptional body of work. However…don’t expect me to high five you when you tell me that I have to “…act as if the strike is NEVER going to end…” because some of us out here have zero sources of income during the strike.

Justine: I would hate for anyone’s residual check to be reduced by 97%. That sucks…it really completely sucks. But what about the young writers who don’t have the luxury of having shows that have aired (and/or have been re-aired) and/or put their kids in pre-school by doing script re-writes and/or are making NO MONEY WHATSOEVER from residuals during the strike? What about those guys? Are they supposed to weather a storm, which could last for a very long time and could potentially send them packing out of town so that your residuals from Family Ties are intact? A long strike that waits for a deal that we might never get will end the careers of a lot of writers who have fought hard to get to a place where they can finally give up the day jobs and do what they love to do.

Don’t get me wrong…I want a good deal…there are improvements that can and should be made on the DGA deal, but…please, please…can we all just stay cool and not start talking about strikes with no exit strategies and placing the word “deal” in parenthesis.

Spekkio said...

Where's the NLRB? Is there any status report on that?

AnthonyDe said...

How would we apply the DGA deal to Quarterlife? That seems like a good test scenario. QL airs 2 episodes a week. They will be combining episodes and broadcasting them on TV. So when they initially air on the web is that first run or promotional? For something to be first run does it have to be on broadcast TV? If it's promotional after 17 days 4 more episodes will have been released. How many people are going to jump in when they are are 4 episodes behind? The promotional period either has to be sliding or unique to each show. In QL's case 4 days or until the next episode airs.

When it gets to broadcast TV and the episodes are combined will they 1 payment per combined episode or payments per episode that make the larger episode? I wonder where QL falls in on the $/minute.

Philip said...

Just because the stakes are careers, homes, lives, does not mean it's not a game. And the minute you start worrying about the stakes, instead of your next move, you are going to lose.

Captain Obvious said...

Hear, hear, Joss! That was very well-put. Glad to see that we really are all on the same page.

WGA Comedy Writer said...

The Internet is changing the way everyone in entertainment gets compensated. And, of course, we need to fight for as big a piece of the pie as possible. But, despite my huge crush on Justine Bateman, I have to tell her that most writers do not make their living off network residuals, and they're certainly not going to make a living off Internet residuals. It's just the reality of the new world. So let's get everything we can in this next round of negotiations and let's make a deal, before NBC decides to replace its comedy block with Celebrity Gladiators.

Splendore said...

How much people have lost the fine job now for guilt of this strike? I believe that I am reached the moment to put all of agreement.

Matt Berry said...

I am a 50 year-old writer who was lucky enough to have worked without interruption on a number of successful sit-coms over the years. When the strike was called I was working on a top-ten one hour. I don't have a point, I just wanted to brag. No, I do have a point, and it is this: I will never get back the money this strike has cost me. And you know what? I am FINE with that. I am fine with that because the history of this union is populated by writers that did the same thing for me. I am on the line every day, and I WILL be on the line every day until we get a fair contract that my union endorses. Please do not have wasted my time and my money.

skippy said...

i'm a sag member, not a wga member, but i've been following the strike (and walking the lines w/you guys) since day one.

i agree, yes, let's keep cool heads and not go off half-cocked now that negotiations may be beginning again.

but i also have to remind everyone that it's not a fairy tale or science fiction that within 5 years (probably sooner) the distribution system of choice for content will be the internet.

maybe not clickthrus or hulu or iphone or what haveyou, but definitely sending the signal over the internet tubes rather than the cable...and since one physical cable brings both technologies into several households nowadays, where's the separation? who will be able to say?

i watch netflix "watch now" movies on my 22" computer monitor while i lay on my couch in my office. it's not as comfortable as my lounge chair in front of my 46" tv in my living room, but it's just a matter of time (read: months) before the user-friendly configuration of computer/tv/recliner chair/keyboard will be available t the consumer.

this is the same sort of situation when cable first appeared on the horizon...thinking it would not be profusely used by most households very soon, our guilds made lousy deals for our work shown on cable...and nobody's been able to raise those rates to a comparable rate of broadcast tv.

keep your eyes on the internet balls, kids! it will supplant broadcast television soon, and the studios are planning on it. that's why they don't want to give you (and us) comparable residuals for internet.

kimmy2007 said...

Some good news finally! Both sides realize this might be the best opportunity to solve this thing, Congrats to both sides, now the work begins, get a deal done and no more fighting !Lets hope for the best .

MrKlaatu said...

Justine, you're right. Internet residuals based on distributor's gross is fair, but THERE CAN BE NO CAP. Why should a show that is successful be punished? I don't see a floor in the DGA deal that pays Internet residuals for shows that no one streams.

The only way to protect the future is to elinate the cap. The DGA will be fighting that battle in three years. I guarantee it.

jj said...

As Justine B. makes clear, this deal paves the way for a massive shift to online delivery. We all know it's already started, but also that it won't happen entirely the day after the contracts are signed.

Beyond the rates for downloads and streaming, there are still other issues to be settled (e.g. separation of rights & jurisdiction), but assuming those can be dealt with, consider this...

The strike hasn't broken or divided us. We have a chance to claim victory in some key areas - and there's no reason to think that THREE years from now and again SIX years from now, hand in hand with SAG (hopefully having reached out to the DGA in the interim) - we can't threaten a shutdown if the internet numbers don't come up to what they should be.

'88 broke the will the of the union to strike. There was resentment and anger among factions. There was no way the guild could be prepared to walk again in order to boost the home vid rate.

We don't have make that mistake again. We can fight this fight over the course of the next decade, as the technology changes, armed each time with better information, and more importantly, in solidarity with each other as well as with our sister unions.

I personally think the numbers are very low, too low, but I won't lock in that opinion until I hear what leadership has to say and all the fine print has been made available to all.

I'm weighing the cost of staying out against the value of living to fight another day. Will the AMPTP simply renegotiate numbers because we ask them to? History says no. But if we, with SAG, are prepared to truly shut them down every three years, if we give them a genuine promise of labor disruptions over the next decade, we will have the leverage to make real changes.

We will achieve over time, with continued effort and dedication, far more than we can hope to do in one fell swoop - if we prepare ourselves to go to that mat again in three years, and again three years after that, as a long as it takes to get our due.

Let us be wary of spending all that we have now, emotionally and financially. Let us consider that this might be the first engagement of many, that what we've been through over the last three months we can do again down the road, and do it better. Let us feel strengthened and seasoned by this experience so that we aren't afraid to fight again, and again, for all that we deserve.

fmc said...

A lot of non writers have supported the writers, but at this point if it's a choice between supporting the writers and keeping my house and children in school, I choose my house and family. I am worried that WGA management will loose it and the AMPTP will storm off in a huff, again! If this happens the industry will be thrown into an all out civil way and public sentiment will turn against the writers. The strike helped the DGA to get a good deal. The strike has paved the way for some positive things, but now it's time to settle. Please keep your cool, remain humble and don't be too greedy. There are more non-writers than writers who are at the the mercy of these negotiations.

QuoterGal said...

nunayerg-dambidness said...

Both sides need to shuck some pride and get the town back to work.


Well, if by "pride" you mean the AMPTP's ego and greed, and the WGA's self-respect and protection of their craft, then I guess you could make that sentence work, nunayerg-dambidness. But otherwise, there is nothing equal about the two side's goals or motives, and most certainly the WGA is not sacrificing their livelihoods and those of the folks they work with and care about out of pride. (And when they protect their residuals, they are protecting funds which feed into the Health and Pension benefits of their colleagues in the trade unions.)

They're protecting their living, without which this culture would be even more awash in a sea of realityTV and *eesh* AMPTP-written films -- and if you've noticed, those guys can't write for shucks.

Like our Jossir said, we need to stay firm and not be bulldozed into accepting a deal that doesn't work for us, and we need to realize, as Justine Bateman noted, that the DGA deal is hardly cause for ending it. Aome pertinent offers from the AMPTP would be.

By the way, all this "cool head" talk somehow implies that the WGA leaders and negotiators have been hotheads running around screaming "fire," which is hardly the case. I've noticed this little meme all over the web today... Does anyone know if that's one of the new anti-strike talking-points? I forgot to check their site today...

m.o.i.@ warrior ant press said...

The rank and file will have to decide if, and when, they see a deal they can live with; that's not my area of expertise. But here's some words from outside the main Hollywood channel, the midwest for example, where there are growing numbers of people (and not insignificant numbers either), who get all their media via streaming content. And they don't care if the video is the size of a cell phone or a youtube stamp. It doesn't matter to them, because they view it all, games, television, and youtube, as eye candy. It's all just another form of quick entertainment.

Wall-sized flat screens may de rigeur among the privledged play set, but for many working creative class members, twenty-somethings, and progressives, it's whatever works and moves the story along. Televisions sets are going the way of the land line because for the price of a nice television you can buy a helluva computer.

If you want to blow your mind with visual images, there's fourteen multiplexes, each with 15 screens, within twenty minutes of your house.

PJ said...

What's the point of opening informal discussions with the Studios if they are just going to offer the paltry DGA deal to us?

We've already seen the trap they set before us, the PR spin, the selling, the shilling...

I don't know one, NOT ONE, of my Fellow Writers who will vote to ratify anything close to this.

It's DOA.

So, maybe it's best to use this opportunity to informally tell them point blank if they aren't willing to make a fair offer, something approximating the interim deals being made now with other Companies, there is no point in talking any further.

And who in their right mind believes they will?

The Studios should have zero doubt NOW that unless a Fair offer is made this Strike will very likely continue until the SAG Contract Expires.

And when that time comes they will have no new product to produce.

For Writers, this is the "We won't get fooled again" Strike. Our solidarity is stronger than they know. And it gets stronger every time we read another Article about how Companies like NBC expect to make One Billion Dollars from New Media this year.


Our future is at stake, it's time we make that absolutely clear to Mr Chernin et al...

We won't get fooled again, so play fair and pay now or pay later.

It's as simple as that.

artdeptgirl said...

pj,

You don't see the DGA as a solid platform for a more writer-specific deal?

Geo Rule said...

My impression has been that the "cool heads" meme is actually pro-leadership, and is indeed about allowing the leadership the time and room to negotiate successfully with a strong and united guild behind them. Rather than giving the public impression of a food fight in the ranks while the leadership is sitting down with the other side.

Anyone can see that there are forces all over the place trying to stampede the WGA into a deal now that DGA has made one. "Staying cool" is a formula for not being stampeded. It's neither anti-deal nor pro-deal. . .it's merely pro "acceptable deal" and anti "What's good enough for the DGA must by definition be good enough for the WGA" (emphasis on "by definition").

fmc said...

The "cool head" talk that is all over the media stems from people like PJ. PJ seems very intent on winning. I am not hearing anything that resembles compromise. "so play fair and pay now or pay later" feels combative and will not produce positive results. Yes, I get that the moguls have a very strong agenda but this get "all or nothing" attitude will probably leave you with nothing and then you will drag the rest of the industry down with you. That's why COOL HEADS MUST PREVAIL! I get that you are fighting for your future, but at this point, the strike is ruining the future of so many more than make up the WGA.

shortgirl said...

Advertising companies want the eyes of the young. Studies show that consumers have greatest retention of online ads mostly because you can't force forward through the ads. The agencies are moving BIG BUCKS online. Wonder why? There is no money on the internet and those darn young'uns don't spend any time there.

I wonder if AMPTP could possibly be worried about the downward trend of their stocks, the Grammys, the Oscars, and February- September with few scripted programs?

"Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

CJ said...

Bravo Applause Ovation!

This is your chance to break the studios that have so abused you!
I am completely against unions and yet I am solidly in your corner.

TVGuide posted an comment that the networks are all set with their relaity, sports and aniamlation programming - they have been plannin this for a long time! THEY walked away from you TWICE!

The signed this deal to A) try to keep the gov from stepping in an forcing arbitration and B) to attempt to swing public opinion against you as the bad guys.

Joss you have been screwedby these guys over and over yourself! This is the change to take the studios down as they have planned to take you all down!

PLEASE keep signing with the small production companies. It is time to let the good ole boys end in the mess of their own making! And start fresh with those who understand the real meaning of team!

MrKlaatu said...

Justine and Thomas are right to be afraid. DirecTV recently launched their Video-on-Demand service. Because of technical limitations delivering content over satellite vs. cable, in order to use the service, you must connect your DirecTV receiver to your home network. Shows are downloaded over your Internet connection and seamlessly integrated into your DVR’s list of recorded shows. The quality is the same and can also include HD video and Dolby 5.1 audio. Some item are free, some are free with ads, and some are paid electronic rentals that expire. This is already available in my house!

How will residuals paid for these programs? There is absolutely no difference to the viewer between TV and electronic delivery.

If there are residual caps, then $20,000 will become $1200 permanently. And sooner than later.

Demanding $20k for Internet streaming now is unreasonable, but capping it at $1200 is crazy. They must remove the cap and make it a fair percentage of distributor's gross.

Hemi said...

Let the witchhunts begin…

I love that any statement taking a moderate position on this DGA deal is labeled as propaganda coming from an “AMPTP shill” (as the blogger “Thomas” has accused me to be).

Well Thomas…I don’t know if you’re sitting on a pile of money OR if you’re the kind of writer that hasn’t worked in so long that striking is giving purpose to your life…but how the hell can’t you be sweating this strike? I’m not going to apologize for my feeling the financial crunch and for hoping that this recent activity may lead the way to a resolution. I’m not going to apologize for writing my fellow guild members in the hope that we don’t jump to conclusions (as you have) and dismiss the possibility of a fair deal. I’m not going to apologize for wanting this thing done so that I know how I’m going to make my February mortgage payment.

Just remember that we’re all guild members with equal voices.

Harold said...

A quick note in anticipation of a someone claiming that the public cares about the Grammys:

"'[W]hatever the case, we should respect the writers,' said Grammy-winning rock legend Tom Petty, who is not in the Grammy race this year. And as far as all the consternation and hand-wringing from others in the music industry about the fate of the awards show, Petty said, 'I've never met a musician who gave a damn about the Grammys, actually.'"

Missing from all news reporting is any word that the public gives a damn about the Grammys either.

"I Won't Back Down" should be the anthem of this strike.

I've adjusted my expectations of the eventual deal due to the DGA deal, but...

Strike on.

D Dragon said...

This DGA deal is a good place to start. Full stop.

This is not a deal for Writers, nor is it a deal for Actors. There are some “ground breaking” tidbits in here. I’ll give them that. But, as said by others, there are more landmines in this than there are life preservers.

I’m out of work, too. I have no residuals keeping me afloat. But, at the end of the day, everyone needs to look at the big ugly picture.

In the last couple of weeks Apple rolled out a plan to rent movies on iTunes. Apple has rolled out the second generation of AppleTV. Comcast cable is looking at Docsis 3.0 cable modem technology with a speed of 160mbps. And, don’t forget, Verizon is pushing FiOS (fiber to your house). Those last two mean that within the next couple of years (if that), you’ll be able to download a movie in a few minutes. Say it with me…minutes.

Now, read the above paragraph one ‘mo again, and ask yourself if that is all a friggin’ coincidence.

The day is rapidly approaching when TV and Online Content will be the same. No, it isn’t going to replace TV, but the lines between the two will be gone as far as the Viewer is concerned. Ponder that statement for a moment. Now, ponder what that statement means to you if you make your living on a set.

Each and every one of us will lose a truckload of money. BTL? You, too. Actors? You betchya. Writers? Oh, yeah. Everyone. And, as DGA people will learn, them too. Hell, how long before TV’s come with hard drives and WiFi cards installed? Or, how long before TiVO crawls the web and dLoads your faves for you?

We are at one of those crossroads, Cats and Kittens. Are reruns worth 20K online now? No. Will they be in the coming years? Yes! BTL, what happens when production costs are down to 5K or less per minute? Pensions? Gone. Good hourly wage? Gone. Residuals. Gone. These people are not into the “collective” mentality we have on sets. We know it takes us all to make a good show. They look at us, ALL OF US, as unsavory expenses to be kept to a minimum.

Guys, this IS the VHS thing all over again. Only this time, every person who makes a living on a set is going to get hammered down the line, not just the people who make residuals.

So, go where your good sense takes you. For sure, we all want to go back to work. But, not if going back to work actually means I can’t make a living at this in ten years.

Check out this link from last year by a Tech Dude with no horse in this race.
http://docsis-it.blogspot.com/2007/10/
americans-expect-movies-at-click-of.html

PJ said...

I am simply echoing the feelings and views of some fellow Writers I spoke with...

I'm sure you'll hear plenty of feedback on this when our Negs provide their analysis. But on the face of it, the DGA deal looks NG.

It is not combative, not about winning, it is about fairness.

We've read that Bear Stearns Analysts took a hard look at our proposals and considered them "largely negligible" to the Companies bottom line. So it's not only affordable, it's good business.

That is how Wall Street views our proposals.

Settling for the first low ball offer or anything resembling it just won't fly at this point.

More likely if and when the time comes that SAG may be forced to join us will we ever see a reasonably equitable offer... and that's probably where we're heading...

The sooner the Studios realize this, maybe the sooner we can all get back to work.

It's up to them, it's always been and will continue to be up to them.

Is the DGA deal something we can work with? I'll defer to WGA Leadership.

We know the best deal is one no-one will be happy with but everyone is willing to live with.

hotline said...

d dragon -

Thank you. I've been saying this from the get go - this is about all unions - seems some btl really don't get that this IS about them, too.

Show of hands - Who wants to pay a five hundred dollar deductible before their kid can see a doctor because their union health care isn't funded? This won't happen in the next three years, but it will be soon after that if a stand isn't made now. These congloms want it all. If you don't see that by now, then take advantage of your good health care while you have it and get your eyes checked.

And to the guy whose been supportive, but will choose his home and family over writers if it goes on longer... Friend, we are striking for your home and your family, too. I get that it's hard to see as bills pile up, but really take a hard look at what's going on with the AMPTP. Again, they're going to take from you, too, down the line.

Suffer now in the short term or forever in the long.

fmc said...

pj, I agree that in all negotiations "the best deal is one no-one will be happy with but everyone is willing to live with." I just hope that your leaders have the ability to get that for you (us). If not, we all suffer.

Unfortunatly for the writers and for all of us who work in the industry, the studios hold the power because they have the money and they make the decisions. So, until writers ( and others in the industry) create self-made platforms and are in control, we will be beholden to them, to a certain extent. You will always be fighting this war with the studios, unless you shift your thinking and create a new paradigm. The way we take in entertainment is shifting. To have a future in it WE have to shift with it. It's time to get really creative!

PS I hope this strike doesn't go on so long that SAG joins you. That would really be unfortunate. Check out this blog and read how industry sentiment is shifting.
http://hhangel.wordpress.com/2008/01/18/writers-strike-no-joke-to-below-the-line-crew/

Brian said...

I am a member of the WGA. But I have been supporting myself in a union job BTL. I have also been involved of Years of arbitration - in an attempt to get a fair accounting of residuals and profit sharing, too. I have experienced first hand, under-handed and shady accounting practices that goes on at studios.

People are scared and want everything to go back to business as usual. And to say that the BTL people are at the mercy of the negotiations is some what true. But. We are always at the mercy of the Writers, the script and the story. If there isn't one - there is no job. It is the foundation of this industry. And many people are unaware of the changes that are facing this industry.

They are unaware of how millions of people around the world are already getting their entertainment content. And they don't see that letting this strike happen was part of, what I think, was a move to bust the unions. Not just the writers Guild - but all the entertainment unions.

Many people say it can't happen. Maybe,not by force - but by it giving away, it can certainly happen. Because the economic cost of paying the WGA what they asked for - is negligible to the studios bottom line. The number that they really can save money on - is by not paying wages, health and pension to ALL the other unions. That is the money they want to save.

If, in an effort to "keep the peace and get back to work" all the unions, take bad internet deals ( where all this content already is going and it is being delivered TODAY) and allowing the Studios to create loop holes in the internet deals that won't be covered by union deals - They can break the Unions down.

There will always be some big tent-pole films and TV shows (At least in the immediate future) But, given the opportunity to try out pilots and film ideas for much lower rates - they will.

And they will be able to do it by using non- union deals. And out-of-work union members will be doing them to pay the bills - because the number of Full Union Jobs will have dropped. Why? Because in thinking short term, they gave up the long term.

The real goal should be to restructure things from the ground floor up. It no longer serves anyone to think of things in old style ways - " This is TV.", "This is New Media.", or " This is Theatrical". It is ALL content - and all the money from the pot needs to be fairly and accurately accounted for - and a fair share needs to be given to all the people who create the content - top to bottom. There is enough to go around.

But, that means some will get more than now - and some will get less. The enormous amounts payed to the few would be reduced - and the rest of the folks would get more. - And everyone would be sharing in the ups and downs of the industry more fairly.

As we know - it is all but impossible to change the way this town thinks. And, people in power do not easily give that away. In fact, it almost never happens. So I think the possibility of rethinking the system ( as far as compensation goes) will mostly likely be small or not happen at all.

The best economic guesses say that making a deal in line with what the writers have asked for, in terms of new media, will hardly effect the bottom lines of the corporations. So there is no strong economic reason this can't be resolved.

The hard part now is finding a way towards agreement. The studios are entrenched in a position that makes it difficult to give the writers what they ask for. It will look like striking works and they will give up power. The writers went in, perhaps, asking for too little. They asked for what is at or near a bottom line. If they asked for more - they would have something to give up ( which most negotiations need to get to yes. And to give up much , means a bad deal for everyone and would set a bad precedent for the future. Which brings us to where we are now. Stuck.

Perhaps, rethinking it all is not a bad place to go. It could allow both sides to "give" something and "get" something. Personalities could save face, a deal could be made and the whole town could get back to work. Into a new future, unknown, but certain to come. And we can thrive in it. Or be left behind.

jimmy said...

I have a question about some language in the DGA deal summary.

"Ad-Supported Streaming: After an initial 17-day window for free promotional streaming of Internet programs, companies must pay 3% of the residual base (approximately $600 for network prime time 1-hour drama) for 26 weeks of streaming. They can continue to stream for an additional 26-week period by paying an additional 3% -- or a total of $1,200 for one year’s worth of streaming. (During a program's first season, the 17-day window is expanded to 24 days to help build audience.)"

First, "After an initial 17-day window for free promotional streaming of Internet programs"

Does "promotional" mean they are not putting ads on these episodes? If so, if they are not making money, I'm not so upset that the writers aren't getting residuals. Although, I DOUBT that's what it means.

Second, "(During a program's first season, the 17-day window is expanded to 24 days to help build audience.)"

How does not paying the residuals help build the audience? Is the audience more attracted to shows that aren't paying residuals? What the hell does this mean?

Again, if it means this is a window of time where NO ADS are attached to the programs, I get it. People are more likely to watch and keep watching if there aren't ads. But I don't think anyone believes that's what they mean.

So, how in the hell does not paying residuals on the content for 24 days help build an audience? That makes no sense.

Axel Rauschmayer said...

As for other financial avenues: Has anyone ever counted how many people there were in some of the fan campaigns? Consider the following numbers: If one had to finance a season with 12 shows that cost 1M$ each, each fan would surely be willing to pre-finance $40 resulting in the need to find 300000 fans (around the world; I know quite a few non-native English speakers---me included---that watch shows in their original version). Is this realistic?

Price Sterling said...

Why not make the first run residual payment apply to all mediums? If a show is going to broadcast online it will cost 20K. If that show is going to be streamed for a year, the $1200 payment will apply. And if it's going to be broadcast on television again then a 2ND RUN residual payment will apply as the 1ST RUN has already been paid for the internet broadcast. Future television broadcasts would apply accordingly, 3RD RUN, 4TH RUN, etc. As far as I can tell this would only be a $1200 increase (6%) in payments and guarantee the first and most important residual payment to the creators of the content. Or is that too simple?

William Blake Herron said...

A lot of positive things about the DGA deal, but as many are noting the ad streaming offer is a disaster. We need a percentage of distrib gross, pure and simple. The good news -- we can use the DGA compromise as a template by taking the $1200 figure, reflecting it as a percentage of projected first year gross. The AMPTP and DGA must have settled on such a figure in order to assay the value of the buy-out. The beauty of this strategy is that everyone has cover. We get our resids based on a cut of gross. They get to say they used the DGA numbers.

If we roll over on this deal point, then we've just ordered a lot of side dishes and no main course. Is that good enough? I don't think so, and it sounds like I'm not alone. Also, to address those writers not presently receiving resids -- yes, this situation is a jagged pill for you guys, and it's truly heartbreaking, but we also can't forget this deal point impacts health and pension, a vital issue for every member. Believe me, we fight this now or we fight this in 2011.

jimmy said...

Here's a nightmare scenario:

John Wells says "The recent announcement of the Itunes deal and the Netflix deal will clearly fall under the 2001 Side-letter and be paid at this much higher [rental] rate."

But not so clearly.

AppleTV is streaming video.

Let's say Disney puts up National Treasure: Book of Secrets in HD for rental. At the head of the movie, they put a mini-trailer up for the "Bronx is Burning" DVD set which they sold to their subsidiary ESPN for peanuts.

Guess what? They could argue that it's that's ad-supported streaming. Or is it rental?

Well, it's both.

Let's see.

Instead of 1.2% of $4.99 which is 6 cents a rental, or about $60,000for a million rentals of this blockbuster -- the writer could get, if their lucky, $1200.

Which do you think they'll be tempted to define it as? Save $58,800 dollars now, and make the writer sue? Yeah, that's what I think too.

And by the way, when you're eventually plugging in your TV directly to the internet, it will ALL be STREAMING.

The contract is full of definitions that pay the writer by delivery in some instances, then by methods of revenue capture in others.

It's a mess.

hotline said...

Craig Mazin is as pathetic as John Ridley.

He's trying to rally guild members into accepting the DGA terms.

I didn't know who the guy was so I IMDB'd him. I suggest everybody do that. There you will see this shameless suck up literally sucking the side of Thomas Hayden Church's face and what looks like humping his leg. He's doing the same thing to studio heads at this very moment. Why? Well, look at his credits. He was in pre-production for a film he wrote and was set to direct when the strike started.

It is absolutely clear to me that this insecure doofus has only his own self interests in mind. Especially after seeing the photo of this B-movie writer hanging all over an A-list actor. The parenthetical to my physical reaction to it would be ( EW. ).

Rodney Vaccaro said...

Hemi, and other writers just starting out…

I appreciate your predicament, but I hope that younger members of the Guild will understand, although this is a very difficult patch, we will get through it, and what is important is to come out on the other side with a fair deal for the future. I know, right now when you’re starting out, any paycheck looks good, but I assure you, if you have a career that spans decades, you will have times when residuals will be your only source of income. Everyone does. What you cannot afford as young writers is to be shortsighted. You can’t think in terms of the money you are losing right now, but rather, you must focus on protecting your ability to have a career in the future.

I don’t want to rush to judgment on a deal that hasn’t been fully analyzed, but just based on what I’ve read of the DGA’s proposal, taken as it is now it would effectively destroy the middle class screenwriter, and I don’t have enough faith in the AMPTP to trust that this deal will be revisited in the next 20 years, based on history.

Try focusing on this…right now, the only card the AMPTP holds is the hope that we will lose faith and fold. All the other cards…content, resolve, ability, spirit, solidarity, strength…are cards that we hold. Their fight is holding onto what they have, ours is winning the future. And this is the greatest thing…we can do this. We can win this if we just stay strong and calm.

In the words of another writer, one who also had good years and a lot of lean years:

“But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.”

just a thought said...

It seems to me from all the comments, that your hard line guild members aren't interested in a deal.
Let me ask you are you waiting for the stake to drive into the vampires heart in the form of a SAG walkout. If that's the case you might not get it. SAG has it's own internal struggle going on right now. AFTRA hasn't come out in support of the strike, only the leadership of SAG has.
Where are all the A list actors on the picket line. No Desperate Housewives. No Grey's Anatomy. Where are they. What happened to the vocal show runners, where they silenced somehow.
If you don't want to make a deal say so. The stake that you might be waiting for might not come, or wind up in your own hearts.

scribeguy said...

JJ wrote:
Will the AMPTP simply renegotiate numbers because we ask them to? History says no. But if we, with SAG, are prepared to truly shut them down every three years, if we give them a genuine promise of labor disruptions over the next decade, we will have the leverage to make real changes.

JJ, you seem to cast yourself as a "moderate" or at least a reasonable pragmatist, but this is some of the scariest "radical" talk I've yet heard. You're proposing that we keep our industry in a constant state of stress and turmoil, threatening to strike or striking "every three years." The WGA approach has been, FROM THE BEGINNING, to arrive at a fair and equitable deal NOW, which will give us another two decades, if not more, of industry peace and prosperity.

I may have misunderstood your point, JJ, but you've just strengthened mine: closing our eyes to the truly BAD parts of the DGA deal, and swallowing it, is in fact, caving to the Alliance. Once we do that, no strike or threat of a strike will ever have the same credibility that WE HAVE AT THIS MOMENT.

Please give your position a little more thought.

And remember, just because the Alliance isn't blogging and showing how worried they are, doesn't mean they aren't bleeding. In fact, all evidence shows that they are hemorraging! Forces are building against them from every quarter: advertisers, Wall Street brokerages, the Congress of the United States, among others.

We are much closer to a good--or at least a much better--deal than you may think. We have arrived at the pivot point. The CEO's are talking with calm, rational, yet passionate negotiators like John Bowman.

Oh, and you've been studying the wrong "history" lessons. We "asked" for royalties, then residuals in 1960 and 1963. We got them...after a strike. We "asked for pension and health benefits in 1973. After a strike, we got those. And other guilds and unions then got something similar. History isn't written by the meek at heart, I'm afraid. As a sadder but wiser Broadway lyricist once wrote: "It's not the earth the meek inherit, it's the dirt!"

Give the Negotiationg Committee a little credit, and a little more time. I believe you'll be happy you did.

fmc said...

If writers don't re-think the model, by 2011 all writers will be on the verge of zero income. College kids don't even own television sets. They don't need to. The internet is killing television. The writers need to get in on that action and forget the studios. In 5 years the tv landscape is going to be very different because the advertisers are going to internet video product sites because that's where the young demos are.... These demos are not watching television shows. They are creating and swapping their own cyber games, movies,videos,music etc. They are able to do this because the technology enables them to do so. In about 10 years music stars and celebs, as we know them, won't be a big deal. The young people don't care about them. THEY are creating and making their own stars. The only true celebs of the future will be sports stars because they will be the last of true live entertainment that will not be able to be replicated by the average joe.

For now, get the best deal you can Then, start developing a platform of your own. The AMPTP will never own the internet. Create a writers online network so you will never have to answer to anyone.

Tom Davis said...

Anyone who thinks the DGA contract is a good deal needs to get a CatScan immediately.

Trading a $20k residual for a $1.2k residual won't sound as good after you get that tumor removed from your Cerebellum.

MrKlaatu said...

"The [DGA] agreement... was meant to reflect the directors’ belief, bolstered by an independent study of industry economics, that digital media will provide a negligible amount of revenue during the life of the contract.
In the directors’ opinion, digital media revenues will become significant only after 2010."

-- New York Times, January 18, 2008 (posted on amptp.org)

So, basically the DGA admits that their deal will be worthless after its term is up and chose NOT TO NEGOTIATE FOR FAIR INTERNET COMPENSATION.

Whether or not they are correct about there not being money in streaming for the next three years (they're not), the deal they made suggests that they either plan to strike in three years OR THEY EXPECT THE WRITERS TO DO ALL THE WORK GETTING A FAIR DEAL.

This is why, in the area of Internet residuals, the DGA deal cannot be a template for a WGA (or SAG) deal. If anything, they need a WGA deal deal to be a template for theirs.

I bet they even negotiated a favored nations clause in their deal, and neglected to put it in their press release.

The answer: Eliminate the ridiculous cap on streaming residuals. Make it a pure percentage of distributor's gross. Then there will be no need for another strike or painful negotiation until they develop laser beams that transmit shows directly into your brain.

Geo Rule said...

I have to admit I don't really understand why people are getting deeply upset by the 17 or 24 day promotional period. I look at that as people who are using the web to "time shift" the first run. In my view, there is no material difference between me having my Comcast DVR put it in the can for me to watch sometime in the next two weeks and me going to the website in that period to watch it. In both cases, functionally I'm watching (to me) "first run".

I can imagine the room for abuse if it never appeared on TV as "first run" in that scenario, but it seems to me that can be managed with provisions. . . and should be.

jimmy said...

geo rule - the big difference is that if the show is on your dvr, it contains the ads that were sold for the broadcast of that show. if you play them or skip them on your dvr, it costs the advertisers the same and the revenue doesn't change.

if you watch it online, that's differents ads. different revenue. additional income to the distributor.

writer's would like to get paid when the products they help create earn additional revenue for the distributors, no matter where or how it is shown.

listening to a song on the radio is not much different than listening to it on your ipod. but each instance is a revenue stream that song writers are properly paid for. same for a book if you buy it on CD, then buy the paperback. writer gets paid for each point of sale, because it is their intellectual property that gives it value.

see the difference?

Mrs_garrett said...

Why do people insist on personal attacks on others in this blog? Who cares what Craig Mazin has written or who he hangs all over-- he has an opinion and is entitled to it, just like anyone else.

And to Justine, do you really believe that television as we know it today is going to shut down tomorrow if this deal is ratified? Seriously-- the airwaves are going to remain the same for quite some time and more eyeballs will be on reruns in broadcast TV for several years to come. The internet has not saturated the country in the way it has on both coasts and in more urban regions. Reruns perfom well on broadcast television and are a much bigger source of income for the networks and cable channels than on the internet. It may change in the future, but certainly not tomorrow. All this Chicken Little behavior makes it hard to take people seriously.

jimmy said...

mrs garret - you might be right that things will change much slower than many people believe. but the history of union contracts in hollywood is that they change even slower or never.

the dvd residual rate is the poster child of that "set in stone" mentality even in the face of startling evidence that it has been increasingly unfair to talent.

THAT RATE REMAINS THE SAME IN THE DGA CONTRACT!

that's why many writers are rightfully fearful that if this contract puts caps on certain revenue streams that could explode in the future, that changing the contract will be next to impossible. when the studios see an advantage, the hold onto like grim death. their jobs are to create predictable profits by fixing as many costs as they can. that's why they flat fees and caps. its makes their accounting a lot more predictable.

and now, because they are multi-billion dollar conglomerates who will probably only get larger, the leverage of the writers might never be as strong as it is, right now, in this moment, to set a precedent for a payment method that is fair, and will react to the changes in the market without ever having to strike again.

because in the future, only all three unions striking at once will make the congloms even bat an eye. and that means once again, the writers taking the first blow for months and months on end.

so, many think it's now or never to get this right for an entire generation of writers.

so the sky might not be falling this minute...but now is the time prepare for when it does.

but I do agree with you about the personal attacks on Mazin. And since when it Thomas Haden Church and "A list" actor? lol.

makomk said...

thomas: bandwidth limits that force them to just stream in a tiny window would be a bad idea, and they wouldn't stand for it. Ad-supported streaming needs to be good enough that people will choose it over illegal downloads via BitTorrent and the like.

jimmy:

"geo rule - the big difference is that if the show is on your dvr, it contains the ads that were sold for the broadcast of that show. if you play them or skip them on your dvr, it costs the advertisers the same and the revenue doesn't change.

if you watch it online, that's differents ads. different revenue. additional income to the distributor."

As I understand it, the amount advertisers pay for broadcast ads depends on the number of viewers. If people watch it online, they get money for the online ads but lose money they'd get for the broadcast ads. It's a different revenue source, but it's not exactly additional revenue. (Well, except compared to what they get if people download it illegally with all the ads stripped out).

Of course, if streaming replaces reruns, then that's a different matter entirely. Still, that won't happen soon, and I'm not sure it ever will, short of the death of broadcast TV as we know it.

Geo Rule said...

Jimmy--

Thanks for the response, and I do see your point. The question becomes, as viewers of TV/DVR decrease and Internet/Web increase, shouldn't each revenue proportionally keep pace? My understanding (perhaps entirely incorrect) is that first run and residuals on broadcast TV have built in minimums as well rather than percentages of revenue. Isn't that problematic to try to mix and match minimums and percentages?

I do understand why each has its advantages. Minimums protect you from getting screwed by Hollywood creative accounting which is so infamous that probably South American rain forest cannibal tribes have heard of it. Percentages of gross makes sure that writers get to participate when the pie is big, and of course that's basic fairness in almost everyone's book.

I guess the question would be are broadcast ad revenues holding up (or increasing) to support those minimums under the original assumptions.

It begins to feel like you need a publishing type solution where the minimums are actually an advance against revenues from all sources, and then when gross revenues exceed a certain dollar amount the percentages kick in for further payments.

Anyway, just thinking out loud here and trying to get my arms around what others see that worries them.

Steve Diamond said...

Several comments here have mentioned the need to increase the leverage of the talent guilds. That is a crucial point. There is a crying need for a coordinated strategy among all the players - WGA, east and west, SAG, DGA, IA, and Aftra, not to mention Nabet, IBEW, IBT. Certainly there have been some very helpful starting points - the SAG and WGA friendship for example.

While the strike has now forced the AMPTP to move off their last position, it is likely that this current round will leave something on the table and if Justine Bateman is right about the future rollout of broadband then that could be a big number. The question then is how to create the kind of pain (to use the apt phrase of the LA Times) to make the other side see the light? A staring point would be a council of all of the key players in the industry, based in LA with real resources to plan and lead both ATL and BTL.

The new world has players in several sectors including Silicon Valley and Wall Street. They must all be confronted if the map of the new era is to be made up of a fair deal for all.

hotline said...

I think when somebody's won and Emmy and has been nominated for an Oscar - that's A list. Thomas Hayden Church has accomplished both.

Craig Mazin has put himself out there to be publicly scrutinized. He's expressing his opinion and I'm expressing mine. His motivations in pushing the DGA deal when it hasn't even been thoroughly analyzed can only be selfish. If he had the best interest of the guild in mind, he'd wait to see the final details of the DGA contract.

And really, you've got to see the picture of him humping Church.

Glen said...

makomk and jimmy, it's worse than that. It's not just streaming that does not mean much of additional revenue source. If you DVR and watch a show a week or two later, skipping commercials, it also reduces the viewers advertisers want to pay for. Every technological advance after videocassettes and DVDs (which actually did bring additional revenue) has been a double edged sword for studios and broadcasters.

The greatest problem with new media is that it replaces the passive time people spent watching live TV with stuff they have more control over, more addictive and more active (DVRs, hand held or online games, social networking, producing own content).

The challenge for TV is to withstand audience erosion the way movies have to a large extent.

Mrs_garrett said...

That is why the DGA put the sunset clause in the deal-- it will be revisited in 3 years and they can see how fair or unfair the deal is for internet residuals. I believe the DGA will absolutely force the studios to take another look at the issue in 3 years. Nothing at all is set in stone.

And thank you, Jimmy, for not attacking me!

stuiec said...

makomk: I don't think Thomas was saying that higher bandwith delivery should be prohibited, but that it should be compensated differently. If it comes across the Internet as easily, conveniently and beautifully as it comes across cable, satellite or over-air transmission, it ought to be compensated similarly to "old media" broadcast.

stuiec said...

glen: "The greatest problem with new media is that it replaces the passive time people spent watching live TV with stuff they have more control over, more addictive and more active (DVRs, hand held or online games, social networking, producing own content)."

There is another huge challenge with New Media: it's measurable. John Wannamaker of Wannamaker's Department Store famously said, "I know half of what I spend on advertising is wasted, I just don't know which half." With New Media, it's far easier to measure what advertising works and what doesn't, and that means advertisers won't wish to spend on the half that doesn't.

jimmy said...

mrs garret - there's a big problem with the "sunset" provision as we know about it now.

it's meaningless.

there's already a built in sunset clause to the whole contract. it expires in three years.

that means every single item is technically up for review, right?

but that's not been the pattern. the pattern has been that once a precedent is set that the studios like, they keep it and will make you strike to change it.

so unless the sunset clause has triggers that automatically revise the numbers up or down based on some sort of objective revenue benchmarks, which is pretty much impossible, then it means nothing.

if the expiring of the contract and clear evidence that the DVD residuals were unfair caused no movement in them for 22 years, a wink and a promise won't change things.

Mrs_garrett said...

I don't agree with that when it comes to the DGA. They spent millions researching this issue and I strongly believe they will hold the studios to it in 3 years--and it is specifically delineated in this deal that the issue of new media residuals will be revisited. That wasn't done in the '88 deal.

Michael said...

Jimmy- yes and no. There are different types of 'sunset clauses' in different types of contracts and some of them are more meaningful than others. This is one of those things where we gotta wait to see the specific language the DGA drafts.

jimmy said...

mrs garrett - well, the problem is they haven't earned that trust from writers. and, at least as far as i can see, they like the directors because they constantly agree to the cheapest deals. it makes sense that they're cozy.

the way the AMPTP has conducted itself during these negotations makes every writer wonder if even the good things they hear about the DGA deal are tricks.

if there is a loophole in the deal, expect it to be exploited. that's the mogul's jobs.

if they are honest about not exploiting the loopholes, then they should be happy to close them.

MrKlaatu said...

The studios have, in the past, promised to revisit residual and payment structures for homevideo, cable TV, and foreign, in exchange for taking less money now to help burgeoning business models. We're still waiting on all three. They're all MANY, MANY TIMES more profitable today, and we still get those original dollars (sic., I mean cents).

NOT THIS TIME.

An uncapped percentage protects both sides. There is no reason not to use such a formula unless you are trying to screw content creators a fourth time.

Matthew Moore said...

Okay, outside observer here. Obviously a lot of the talking points of the deal are very vague, but the EST proposal and its breakpoints seem to paint two possibly very different pictures. Does anyone know the specifics of whether a show that sells more than 100,000 downloads is still getting the crappy 0.3% formula for the first 100k? I don't know if I put that clearly so let's put it this way: a show sells 101,000 downloads. Is it making 0.7% on 101,000 sales, or 0.3% on 100,000 sales and 0.7% on the other 1,000? Because if it's the latter then I don't see how even the moguls can suggest that even comes close to "doubling" the rate on EST. Has that been really explained yet?

makomk said...

stuiec:

"I don't think Thomas was saying that higher bandwith delivery should be prohibited, but that it should be compensated differently. If it comes across the Internet as easily, conveniently and beautifully as it comes across cable, satellite or over-air transmission, it ought to be compensated similarly to "old media" broadcast."

The thing is,
(a) it's not a seperate thing to broadcasts, it's a supplement. In particular, the 17-day window basically poaches viewers of the broadcast version, BitTorrent users and new viewers who missed the first episode and wouldn't otherwise watch the series aside. (This is probably part of the reason the DGA were willing to put it in.)
(b) I suspect there's not really that much money in it yet, at least in comparison to normal TV.

"There is another huge challenge with New Media: it's measurable. John Wannamaker of Wannamaker's Department Store famously said, "I know half of what I spend on advertising is wasted, I just don't know which half." With New Media, it's far easier to measure what advertising works and what doesn't, and that means advertisers won't wish to spend on the half that doesn't."

Possibly. Sure, for things like banner ads you can measure stuff like click-through rate and even how many people buy something after clicking on them. (Of course, this just means that many advertisers only pay when someone does click on one).

However, they seem to be going mainly for streaming video ads, where they can measure how many people watch it and roughly where they come from, but not a lot more. (They can collect more information if they make users register, but it tends to annoy them and the information isn't always exactly accurate.)

Friso said...

Maybe you guys should look at what's happening in other countries, technology-wise. I live in a tiny country called the Netherlands. Like many other European countries (except for the UK) we already have the actual infrastructure in place that some of you think will take years to become available in the US.

High-speed internet is very affordable here (20Mbit downstream: $25/month). Over 80% of the households now have broadband internet access. And this is happening in a country where 98% of the households also have dirt cheap cable (we pay $15/month for combined analog and digital SD feed). There no longer is an analog feed over the air.

Heck, even the current iPhone wasn't launched over here, as its previous-generation connection speeds would have been silly in a country where 3.5G has 99% coverage.

This is not about bragging. This is to show you the infrastructure is here. The only reason that AppleTV's and Media Centers aren't commonplace is because the content is not available yet.

You see, the most popular content comes from the US. And so far, we have no television shows, movies or even videclips available on iTunes. And since Microsoft (another US company) dropped the ball on Media Center by not supporting the European/Asian digital television standard (DVB), people are forced to keep watching television instead of using their computers to manage content.

But the writing's on the wall: the Dutch website that offers digital reruns of local programming in case you missed a broadcast - that's the most popular site on the net here. Many people use that site to watch all their locally produced shows.

So just imagine what would happen if the US studios and software companies got their heads out of their collective backsides and decided to offer current US content here. The market for digital content would explode.

And that content is precisely the stuff that you guys are writing and producing over there. So don't think for a second that a deal on new media can wait another three years. And don't forget to secure your 'overseas' rights!

What if you don't? Well, then as soon as you've signed your rights away, the digital floodgates will probably open over here. And you will not see a dime. Just think about it.

So stay strong, and fight for your rights. Otherwise you'll have made the biggest mistake of your (and many others') lifetime.