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WGA Says Estimated $156 Million in Increased Payments Would Be ‘Reasonable’

With no resolution in sight for contract negotiations, the Writers Guild of America is estimating that it would cost employers $156 million annually to increase payments to writers under its proposal to production companies.

The WGA West, in a Friday afternoon post on its website, said, “The cost of settling is reasonable.” It also estimated that the combined annual costs to the six major companies — CBS ($14.02 million), Disney ($18.57 million0, Fox ($22.3 million), NBC ($15.68 million), Sony ($11.21 million) and Time Warner ($24.01 million) — would be $103 million.

The guild says those six companies generated $51 billion in operating profits in 2016. The additional estimated costs include $8.58 million for Viacom and $41.83 million for “smaller companies,” which it said includes Netflix, Amazon, Lionsgate, AMC and hundreds of others.

With four days left before the contract expires, sources indicate that the talks are likely to go on all weekend and into Monday. A strike could start as early as 12:01 am PT on Tuesday. The WGA last struck for 100 days between Nov. 5, 2007, and Feb. 12, 2008.

The WGA posting is the first public comment from either side during the four days of negotiations this week at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers as both camps are observing a media blackout. The need for a boost in employer contributions to the guild’s ailing health plan and the WGA’s desire for revisions in compensation for TV writers amid the industry’s towards shorter seasons are the major sticking points.

Here’s the post:

During this negotiation writers have raised legitimate concerns about declining compensation in the face of growing industry profits. The WGA has proposed reasonable solutions that would allow writers to share in a small portion of the success they have helped create. We estimate that our current proposals would cost a total of $156 million annually over the entire industry. For the six largest companies, who collectively reported almost $51 billion in operating profits in 2016, the cost is only $103 million. As detailed in the chart below, the share of this cost for each of our major employers is small. The undeniable truth is that these costs are very affordable for these profitable companies.

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