AMPTP buys ad to ‘set the record straight’

Strike_day_6_004_2 As the writers took to the street, in print, online and via the airwaves last week to discuss the lack of streaming Internet residuals (just check out all of the strongly-worded statements from a who’s who of writers and showrunners in the roundup to the right, and all over this blog), there was little response from the studios.

Until this morning’s Variety and Hollywood Reporter, that is. The AMPTP, apparently feeling the need to buy an ad in both papers order to get its point across, took out a page in the pubs under the headline “Setting the record straight.” It appears the mega-congloms took issue with writers who have said they don’t get a penny off of digital downloads. (That includes “Lost” exec producer Damon Lindelof, who, in his Sunday New York Times op-ed piece, said he received nothing from iTunes downloads.)

Technically, scribes do… although it’s probably not much more than a penny or two, and the writers could argue that it’s virtually nothing (and should be increased). But that’s not quite the same as nothing.

It’s streaming that the scribes get buptkus from so far. And it’s streaming that is at the real crux of the issue, the media behemoths say. Furthermore, “When the WGA went on strike, an offer to pay writers for Internet streaming was on the table,” the AMPTP ad claimed.

Indeed, there was an offer on the table with some specificity — including a one or two month window — but the rate had not been set yet. The WGA leaders feel that the companies did not move far enough after the guild had taken the DVD proposal off the table.

— Michael Schneider

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  1. timewasting says:

    If a writer is in between jobs for the entirety of the year and needs money then he or she should get a job. Moreover, 22,000 a year is a LOT of money for someone who is not actually working. It exceeds the 2007 poverty level for a family of FOUR in the United States (which is admittedly astonishingly low and points out to all of us a place where these demonstration efforts would be more useful, e.g., lobbying to get the poverty level raised).
    And the fact that the WGA will finally acknowledge that there was also a proposal on the table from the studios to which the writers did not deem it sufficient to respond should at least make you question the level to which Verrone is spinning this thing. This was not the writers placing proposal after proposal to the studios without response. There were proposals placed before the writers which were not responded to, as well. And the supposed last-ditch effort of teh WGA to put a proposal on a table to avoid teh strike that they had already announced was just posturing — it was delivering an ultimatum rather than a good faith attempt to keep negotiations open. I continue to believe that this strike was ill-advised, unnecessary and selfish.

  2. Keith G says:

    Surely “permanent digital downloads” are what are sold through iTunes. The Minimum Basic Agreement only specifically covers limited-use downloads that subscribers pay for. Any other residuals that writers are being paid for from new media isn’t because of the MBA – perhaps some of the Alliance isn’t completely heartless. But the MBA needs to cover all these new media sources.
    While $260,000,000 in “record breaking residuals” is supposed to sound impressive, divided between the 12,000 members of the WGA, it amounts to less than $22,000 dollars a year. If a writer is between jobs, that is not a lot of money for the entirety of 2006.

  3. n/a says:

    Also, it should be noted that there aren’t any companies that that seem to provide “permanent” digital downloads in the first place. A few do online rentals which are deactivated/disabled after a couple days, and a few provide options to watch content in the users’ browser for a fee.
    But none come to mind that produce a product that a consumer can take and keep for themselves outside of having to log into a website or use a proprietary player. Hardly a permanent download when the user has to hope the provider doesn’t flop. If I buy a DVD, Universal can go out of business and my DVD will still work. If the online download shops close down, my content (and the money invested) vanishes.

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