The Los Angeles Times and other news outlets reported over the weekend that the broad strokes of a deal between the AMPTP and the WGA could be in the offing as early as next Friday. The parties reportedly closed the gap over how much the studios should pay writers for free streaming of movies and television programs over the Internet. The parties still need to find a mutually agreeable distinction between content exploitation in which residuals would be payable and content promotion which would be residual-free.
The Directors Guild closed their deal over these issues last month but many striking writers (and SAG members) criticized that deal for not going far enough on streaming.
The breakthrough came when Bob Iger and Peter Chernin, the designated studio heads negotiating the deal, included more favorable streaming residuals than those in the DGA deal and separated rights for shows created for the Internet so writers receive extra compensation and credit for television shows based on online programming.
However, Guild leaders issued the following cautionary statement on Sunday morning:
To Our Fellow Members,
While fully mindful of the continuing media blackout, we write you to address the rumors and reports that undoubtedly you have been hearing.
The facts: we are still in talks and do not yet have a contract. When and if a tentative agreement is reached, the first thing we will do is alert our membership with an e-mail message. Until then, please disregard rumors about either the existence of an agreement or its terms.
Until we have reached an agreement with the AMPTP, it is essential that we continue to show our resolve, solidarity, and strength.
Picketing will resume on Monday. Our leverage at the bargaining table is directly affected by your commitment to our cause. Please continue to show your support on the line. We are all in this together.
Patric M. Verrone
As I posted earlier, the break in the impasse here was the result of the principals fronting these discussions and negotiators likely ghost writing arguments for and against critical deal points. Sometimes, this approach is the only way to make meaningful progress in deal negotiations. Once Iger, Chernin, Verrone and Winship work out these broad strokes, the Guild’s rank and file still have to approve the deal. That would pave the way to resolving the strike and getting writers back to work in time to save pilot season and part of the fall television schedule (not to mention feature work) even if it takes months for labor negotiators to work out the details.