Televisa pact ups writers’ royalities

Key aspect is inclusion of coin for film broadcasts

MEXICO CITY — Televisa, Mexico’s largest broadcaster, has finally approved a new writer’s contract after three years of negotiation, upping rights payments and, for the first time, covering royalties for films shown on TV.

Contract, signed Monday, replaces the previous 15-year-old deal. It can be renewed in October 2005 and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2000, meaning that writers whose work was broadcast by Televisa in the past three years are now eligible for back royalties.

Deal was negotiated by the Mexican General Writers Society (Sogem).

Key aspect is the inclusion of royalties for broadcast of films, which Sogem head Victor Hugo Rascon Banda called “an extraordinary achievement.”

Televisa must pay royalties to screenwriters or their surviving family members for any movie it broadcasts made in the last 100 years, including classic black and white films of Mexico’s “golden age” of Maria Felix and Jorge Negrete films.

In addition, author’s rights payments for telenovelas and other programming will increase by a determined percentage every year.

Rascon Banda declined to detail the value of the new rates and their increases, saying only that it was “a fair payment.”

Previous payment rates did not increase annually and, particularly for retransmission, were diminishingly small, even symbolic.

New contract extends to Televisa’s Internet sites, and its cable and satellite subsidiaries, including Cablevision Mexico and Sky.

Sogem said it would begin negotiations this week with TV Azteca, Mexico’s second-largest net. Contract currently covers only telenovelas and TV series; goal is to include film transmission rights as well.

It will also negotiate with Mexico’s roughly five-dozen cablers and indie channels Canal 11 and Canal 22.

Finally, the writers union said it hoped to extend payment rights to screenwriters of foreign films. “Behind every movie or television success, there’s always a good writer,” Rascon Banda said.

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