Hollywood Strikes Over Digital, DVD Rights Inch Closer

The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have been in negotiations for a new digital media pay structure and better DVD pay. But privately both sides think they have reached an impasse and a strike looks increasingly likely, according to a report in the FT. The writers have been asking for an increase in the cut they get from DVD sales — to eight cents from the current four cents per DVD sold; and they have again raised the issue of wanting compensation when a TV show is streamed on the Internet.

The AMPTP contends writers should not be eligible for revenues from Internet-based streaming services because such services are a promotional tool aimed at people who have missed broadcasts. This claim would seem to run counter to the numerous attempts by networks to create commercial models out of their Internet businesses, mainly in the form of advertising. On the DVD side of the business, the AMPTP said demands for double pay were “untenable” given the “costs and deficits” associated with DVD production; the alliance also talks about the millions of dollars they claim are lost to piracy,

The results of the WGA strike ballot will be known by October 18. The union’s current pay agreement expires at the end of October; meanwhile studios are apparently stockpiling programs in preparation for a show-down.