WGA's Strike Possibly Coming; Deadlocked OverDVD and Online Residuals; Effects On Digital

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Hollywood screenwriters and studios were still deadlocked tonight, and talks are off, so Writers Guild of America could call for a strike anytime now. Writers will meet Thursday night to plan their next move. WGA says what it has said all along: DVD residuals for writers are stingy, have opposed a producer plan to extend that rate to digital sales. “The companies refused to continue to bargain unless we agree that the hated DVD formula be extended to Internet downloads,” the WGA statement said. Studios meanwhile have maintained that online is experiment, and they need to invest, and that higher residuals on DVDs and Internet downloads would stifle growth at a time of rising production costs, tighter profit margins and piracy threats.

Reuters: WGA members may continue to work under terms of the old three-year labor pact, though a spokesman said “they will technically be working without a contract.”

WGA said it made some concessions on the DVD issue, but “The companies [Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, in this case] returned six hours later and said they would not respond to our package until we capitulated to their Internet demand,” the WGA said. “Every issue that matters to writers … has been ignored. This is completely unacceptable.”

THR: As it is now, writers get 1.8 percent of just 20 percent of wholesale DVD revenue. That formula translates to about $64,800 flowing to writers of a DVD that sells 1 million copies. The WGA would like to see that formula doubled, or more, when it comes to the selling of Internet downloads — even if, right now, sales of such are paltry when compared to DVDs.

Also, for online ad-supported video, the WGA wants a piece of the ad-supported market and the AMPTP is balking.

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