WGAW survey shows rise in o’seas airings of U.S. TV

Stats underscore need for better foreign residuals, guild says

Foreign telecasts of U.S. TV programs jumped 47% to 244,187 between 1994 and 1999, as the market continued to perform above expectations, according to a survey released by the Writers Guild of America West.

The survey showed growth more than doubling in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Japan and Norway. Hour telecasts rose by 55% to 89,323 hours; movie telecasts were up 51% to 18,620, while half-hour series jumped 42% to 136,244.

The WGAW, which disclosed the survey in its “Negotiations Alert” newsletter to members, said the statistics underscore the need for foreign residuals to be improved in upcoming contract negotiations, which have not yet been scheduled.

But studios are likely to contend that prices in many foreign markets have dropped for one-hour shows and movies amid uneven demand for U.S. as locally generated programming gains favor.

Key issues

The union’s current contract, negotiated with the Assn. of Motion Picture and Television Producers, expires May 1, and many execs believe there is a strong possibility the guild will strike for the first time since 1988. Other key issues include improved network and cable residuals, Internet jurisdiction and opposition to the “A Film By” credit.

The WGAW, which negotiates jointly with the Writers Guild of America’s Eastern branch, highlighted the foreign residuals issue by noting that the current formula has not been altered since 1970 and not kept pace with expansion.

“The marketplace in foreign distribution has continued to outpace all expectations and is now a primary export of the U.S.,” said WGAW executive director John McLean, who added that what’s needed is “reasonable and fair proposals and respect for marketplace realities.”

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