These are not happy times for leaders of Hollywood’s labor unions.
The WGA, SAG and DGA face the unpleasant task over the next year of trying to land a larger cut of the profits from the exploding market for Internet downloads and digital delivery platforms — from a corporate culture that’s ferociously committed to protecting the bottom line.
The breadth of the challenge came into focus Nov. 27, when it became known that the Writers Guild, with a Halloween 2007 expiration on its contract, had decided to spurn starting negotiations in January and told studios and nets it won’t be ready to talk until next September.
The major upside in that strategy is that it gives all the guilds more time to figure out which digital platform to target at the negotiating table. It’s a do-or-die issue for the guilds, which have been stuck with small residuals on video and DVD since agreeing to compromise in a 1985 contract.
The current board of the WGA was elected on promises to aggressively seek a better deal on digital, and SAG’s board has taken a more aggressive tack over the past year.
Even the DGA’s playing its cards close to the vest, giving no indication of its strategy.