Scribes prep deal ‘Time’ with confabs

Current contract to expire next year

The Writers Guild of America West has started laying the groundwork for its next contract negotiations, more than a year before the current contract expires.

Using the slogan “It’s Time,” the union has started publicizing meetings in Studio City, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills next month, with appearances by WGAW executive director John McLean, officers and members of the board and the residuals negotiating committee.

The guild has identified key issues as increases in basic cable, foreign television and made-for-pay residuals; advancing creative rights, including abolition of the possessory or “vanity” credit; improved residuals for Internet distribution of features and TV; for Fox, WB and UPN to pay network residual rates; and increases in video residuals.

Divisive round

In the last contract negotiations, the membership turned down a pact in the fall of 1997 before ratifying the agreement nine months later. The failure to ratify caused a major rift between the Eastern and Western sections of the guild.

The union’s negotiators reached agreement with producers and networks a day before the previous contract ran out. That agreement provided for total increases of 10.9% in screen and non-network TV minimums, 10.9% gains in foreign and domestic TV residuals, 12.5% increases in daytime series breakdown minimums and 9.3% gains in primetime minimums at ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

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