The WGA responds to its membership

The WGA sent the following email to its members on Friday afternoon:

Fellow members:

There are a lot of rumors and questions floating around, and we’d like to address them.

HAVE NEGOTIATIONS BROKEN DOWN? No.

DID OUR NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE ASK FOR A BREAK? No.

THEN WHY THE FOUR-DAY BREAK? On Thursday, the studios and networks gave us some of their proposals, and said they needed more time to fashion the rest. Therefore talks were scheduled to resume on Tuesday.

THE COMPANIES SAY THEY ARE OFFERING US IS A $130 MILLION INCREASE. THE GUILD CALLS IT A ROLLBACK. WHY THE DISPARITY? The companies have still not explained how they arrived at their $130 million figure, but we can certainly explain how this is a rollback.

OKAY. SO HOW IS THEIR MADE-FOR-INTERNET PROPOSAL A ROLLBACK? Currently, the writer of a 30-minute prime-time TV show makes almost $21,000. The conglomerates are proposing that if that writer wrote the same show for the Internet, his or her initial compensation would be $2,600. That’s a rollback of 88%.

SO WHAT’S THEIR OFFER ON INTERNET RERUNS? Currently, the writer of a half-hour television episode makes about $11,600 when his or her episode is first re-run on TV. The companies are proposing that if that same episode is rerun instead on the Internet, they will pay the whopping total of $139 for unlimited reruns for one year–and nothing at all if it only streams for six weeks. About a third of all TV series are now being rerun only on the Internet. This amounts to an immediate 98.8% rollback. And it gets worse. If they decide to call a show “promotional,” they don’t have to pay us anything. It’s a “freepeat.”

WOW. AND WHAT ABOUT FEATURES? Are you sitting down? The companies want to be able to stream any and all feature films in their entirety, supported by advertising dollars, and pay the writers nothing. Zip.

Nada. Bupkus. A 100% rollback.

GIVEN ALL THIS, HOW IN THE WORLD DID THE COMPANIES COME UP WITH THE $130 MILLION FIGURE? Our question exactly. It’s definitely not a three-year number. As near as we can figure, their proposal might net us that total around the year 2107.

YOU HAVEN’T SAID ANYTHING NEW ABOUT DOWNLOADS. Neither have they. We are hoping that they will address this essential issue by Tuesday. Stay tuned.

In solidarity,

Nick Kazan

Howard A. Rodman

Phil Robinson

Tom Schulman

(for the Board of Directors)

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