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WGA talks turn up the volume

Initial posturing has been combative, public

To no one’s surprise, the opening round of WGA negotiations last week signaled a tough slog ahead in coming months. The two sides are so far apart on the issue of how to pay writers for work on digital platforms that few hold out hope a deal will be reached by the time the WGA contract expires on Oct. 31.

The surprise was how combative — and public — the initial posturing has been, as both sides scrambled to convey the righteousness of their arguments.

The PR battle has featured extensive position statements from both sides, three news conferences (with high-profile showrunners on the WGA side and network execs on the company side) and the disclosure of their entire initial proposals on the opening day of negotiations on July 16.

The relentless spinning is an abrupt departure from prior Guild negotiations, which have consisted of a mutually agreed-upon news blackout until a deal was reached.

In this case, though, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have decided that it’s never too early to start persuading everyone else in Hollywood — with the goal of gaining the upper hand in the town’s eyes amid the scary prospect of strikes next year.

Contracts for SAG and the DGA both expire June 30.

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