WGA: Producers Not Paying for New Media

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It’s like we jumped in the wayback machine and landed smack dab in November 2007. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) said yesterday that big media companies weren’t honoring the contract that ended last year’s 100-day writer’s strike by failing to pay residuals for work used in new media. The WGA West has filed for arbitration against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for payment of those residuals.

The WGA appears to have two main beefs with the AMPTP over electronic sell-through of content and streaming of television shows. The WGA says that its agreement with the AMPTP covers feature films produced after July 1, 1971 and TV shows produced after 1977. According to the WGA, the studios are reneging and saying only programs created after Feb. 13, 2008 are covered.

If that wasn’t enough, the WGA says that TV shows are being streamed online for longer than the 17-day residual-free grace period specified in the contract, but writers have received no payments.

Ugh. Don’t forget that the Screen Actors Guild is still working without a contract, and the economy is, shall we say, quite sucky right now — and last year’s strike cost the Los Angeles economy $2 billion. A second strike in as many years may not engender the same level of sympathy as it did last time around and could be even more devastating to the local economy.

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lindsay campbell

Well, what’s 1% of zero?? The residual model for new media is what’s stuck in a time machine. Writers, directors and performers should be negotiating for an upfront fee for unlimited new media distribution. A buy-out model makes a hell of a lot more sense than residuals, especially right now. The buyout should be a percentage of the day rate and it should be pretty significant, 10-15%. When the contract is up again the unions could hold out for a bigger percentage buy-out fee. A strike right now is a terrible idea.

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