WGA deal: Plenty to think about  

WgameetingshrineBy CYNTHIA LITTLETON

There’s a lot to digest from all the info about the WGA deal that has been released in the past few days and discussed at Saturday’s WGA West membership powwow at the Shrine Auditorium (pictured). A few things that stand out, or were pointed out to me by people much smarter than I am about this stuff:

No. 1 — Surprising that more hasn’t been made about the deal’s provision on streaming of library product going back to 1977, which pays scribes 2% of distributor’s gross from the FIRST year of the contract and with NO PROMOTIONAL WINDOW.

The deal defines library product as any program offered for streaming more than one year after the initial telecast of the program. (That’s in line with the DGA’s formula for network primetime shows that are offered for streaming for more than one year, and in line with the WGA’s provision for the first two years of its contract.) That’s probably going to be meaningful for some scribes in the near future as the majors push web initiatives like the NBC Universal-News Corp. joint vid venture Hulu.com, which is based on offering tons of segs, if not entire seasons, of library shows. Right now, ABC.com is offering the first three seasons of “Lost” for ad-supported web streaming, which means those scribes will be paid at the distributor’s gross rate from the get-go once the contract is ratified.

A potential rub could come in the issue of how nets and studios determine the license fee that distribs Wgameetingshrine2 will receive for older episodes that are licensed for web streaming. The issue gets even more complex when it involves different units of the same congloms, as so much of TV production and distribution does these days. Which brings us to the next standout issue in the WGA deal.

No. 2 — What’s all this business about an “imputed value” of $40,000 for an hourlong program and $20,000 for a half-hour program being established upfront for the switch to a distributor’s gross formula for web streaming in the third year of the WGA pact. Isn’t that like cooking the numbers, if both sides already know what the distrib’s gross is going to be three years from now? Especially when it turns out that 2 percent of the “imputed value” works out to only a little more than the fixed residual fee from years one and two?

The answer is yes, and no, I’m told.

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  1. Stuart Creque says:

    Don’t be too hard on Fi Core just because of his spelling. Even Sumner Redstone is dyslexic, I’m told.
    Oy — what if Fi Core IS Sumner Redstone?

  2. Fi Core says:

    OOPS !!!!!!!Struck a nerve, i guess,sorry !!!!!this 2 will b my last post,but i did post 2weeks ago this strike iz over,don’t b such sore lozers,just remember I’ll be watching and if u did any more advice and guidance,i’m not far away, Best, FiCore

  3. Paul says:

    Good luck, Fi-Core, as you wander off to heckle the next cause as a way of trying to fill your awful, empty day. Maybe you can hook up with one of the other countless online deadbeats who have stood on the sidelines of this dispute, adding pointless, ignorant, poorly spelt rants.

  4. My last post here says:

    As the strike ends, I’m no longer surprised by someone like Fi Core’s posts. Obviously, he or she knows nothing about the situation, despite having posted so fiercely (and ironically, with such awful writing skills). I’m now pretty sure s/he does this just to get a rise out of writers and has had some success. Good for you. Just so you know, the DGA got their deal done with much better terms for them because of the strike. Period. Never would’ve happened otherwise. Also, without the strike, the WGA becomes a dead union in a rather short amount of time. No new media, no contributions to pension and health, decline and end of union. So we had to strike simply to survive in a country where unions have been beaten down for 30 years. Is that simple enough to digest even for you, Mr. or Ms. Fi Core? That, and the fact that every writer on the line knew they’d never see the amount of money they were losing during the strike back in their pockets because of this deal. It was for the future, and future writers, like the generations before did for us. So the strike is done, but for the vote to officially end it, and this is my last post here. Goodbye, Fi Core. I’m going back to work and I don’t have time to play with you anymore. I hope whatever has made you so bitter isn’t so bad that you can’t overcome it one day. Or if you simply were a paid corporate shill, then may I say, you were pretty terrible at making your case. The companies should get their money back.

  5. Fi Core says:

    get ready for more pink slips go american idol !!!!!!

  6. Fi Core says:

    Also think about any job openings u might have. I need a new one soon! Where is a union when u need one!!!!!

  7. Action/Reaction says:

    Trust can’t exist with a souless entity like the AMPTP. It is a conglomerate of companies with no real central authority. Trust might be established on a personal level with individual entities, say holding Iger, Chernin, et al to their word, but forget about universal trust. The AMPTP walked away from the table, but it was still a table the WGA set up. By trying to inflict pain and damage upon the entity, they responded by relieving pain. Expecting anything less, or complaining about their tactics, is naive but still could not have happened without the writers inititating it. And the writers will make some real gains, but they will also take some real hits as the studios continue to rework their business model to protect themselves from the pain inflicted this time, just as they did some 20 years ago. None of these battles is fought in a vacuum.

  8. Fi Core says:

    Think about thanking the dga for doing what ur leaders couldn’t get ,think about all the showrunners working rite now even before a vote, think, about in 3 years so much reality that u will never be able 2 shut down this town,think about………………………..walmart !!!!!!!!

  9. Marian Martell says:

    It seems disingenuous to say: “Let’s have a level of trust that exists between us so that we don’t get back into one of these all-or-nothing situations.” When the AMPTP walked away from the table, twice, refusing to negotiate until after they had damaged the lives of tens of thousands of people (most of them not even members of the WGA). I am still mystified about why the studios and networks wanted to engage in these union busting techniques in the first place. And I’m continuing to write to my Congressional Representative about the anti-labor tactics and the history of secret accounting practices.

  10. Luzid says:

    “Let’s have a level of trust that exists between us so that we don’t get back into one of these all-or-nothing situations.”
    Yeah, because the studios have shown they’re soooo trustworthy, what with the decades of shady financing to rob writers of residuals, the horrific DVD/cable ‘deals’, and the retraction of a promised Most Favored Nations clause at the last minute of this negotiation.

  11. Luzid says:

    “Let’s have a level of trust that exists between us so that we don’t get back into one of these all-or-nothing situations.”
    Yeah, because the studios have shown they’re soooo trustworthy, what with the decades of shady financing to rob writers of residuals, the horrific DVD/cable ‘deals’, and the retraction of a promised Most Favored Nations clause at the last minute of this negotiation.

  12. Stuart Creque says:

    “Let’s have a level of trust that exists between us so that we don’t get back into one of these all-or-nothing situations.”
    And the best way that the WGA and the other entertainment industry guilds and unions can foster that trust is to form a unified and powerful labor movement, so that they have the collective power to persuade management to keep its promises. If labor is too united to be double-crossed with impunity, management will find it a lot easier to stay honest, and thus trust can take root and grow.

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