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WGA inks 3-year deal with 200 PBS scribes

Contract calls for 3.5% raise

Writers Guild of America negotiators announced Friday that they had signed a three-year contract covering nearly 200 writers at the nation’s PBS television outlets, including WGBH Boston, KCET Los Angeles and WNET New York.

The agreement, which is retroactive to Nov. 13 and subject to a ratification vote, calls for a 3.5% salary increase in the first year, 4% in the second and 3.5% in the third, along with improvements in credit language. It also contains first-time provisions for compensation for nonfiction material used as the basis for books and use of material on the Internet and digital TV.

“We are very pleased,” said Mona Mangan, executive director of the WGA East and head of the guild’s negotiating team. “The new contract permits the stations to move toward new technology and enables writers to share in new markets. And it moves forward the credit agenda, which is a big concern to our membership.”

Mangan noted that the new contract specifies for the first time that only writers, directors and producers are entitled to receive writing credits for a program. As in the previous contract, credit disputes will go to a joint union-management panel.

The new contract also provides for the first time that writers for programs on which nonfiction books are based will receive part of the producer’s license fee from the publisher, starting at 9% with a 14% cap. As for Internet provisions, the new contract allows for use of material on the Web if it is licensed and sets a 15% initial compensation fee for material not yet licensed.

“The Internet provisions should be a nice windfall for writers with a significant amount of material in the PBS library,” Mangan noted.

The WGA agreed to allow use of material on digital TV with additional fees if the new technology becomes a commercial success.

PBS writers had been working under provisions of the previous contract for the past 11 weeks. The new contract, on which talks concluded Friday in New York, covers writers who are on staff, along with freelancers.

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