MUMBAI: It is going to be a depressing Christmas
between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and
Alliance Of Motion Picture and Television Producers
(AMPTP) broke down last Friday. There has been
no indication so far as to when talks will resume.
WGA went on strike over a month back. They want
a better share in new media revenues. The breakdown
came after eight days of talks in which not
much was achieved.
a statement the AMPTP says that it is puzzled
and disheartened by an ongoing WGA negotiating
strategy that seems designed to delay or derail
talks rather than facilitate an end to this
strike. "Union negotiators in our industry
have successfully concluded 306 major agreements
with the AMPTP since its inception in 1982.
The WGA organisers sitting across the table
from us have never concluded even one industry
WGA, meanwhile, says that the AMPTP on Friday
abruptly ended negotiations by once again walking
out and leaving its negotiators alone at the
are holding to their offer of a $250 fixed residual
for unlimited one year streaming after a six-week
window of free use. They still insist on the
DVD rate for Internet downloads. They refuse
to cover original material made for new media.
This offer was accompanied by an ultimatum:
the AMPTP demands we give up several of our
proposals, including Fair Market Value (our
protection against vertical integration and
self-dealing), animation, reality, and, most
crucially, any proposal that uses distributors
gross as a basis for residuals.
would require us to concede most of our Internet
proposal as a precondition for continued bargaining.
The AMPTP insists we let them do to the Internet
what they did to home video."
WGA says that it rejected the idea of an ultimatum.
"Although a number of items we have on
the table are negotiable, we cannot be forced
to bargain with ourselves. The AMPTP has many
proposals on the table that are unacceptable
to writers, but we have never delivered ultimatums.
We remain ready and willing to negotiate, no
matter how intransigent our bargaining partners
are, because the stakes are simply too high.
We were prepared to counter their proposal tonight,
and when any of them are ready to return to
the table, were here, ready to make a
AMPTP says that besides betraying a fundamental
misunderstanding of the economics of new media,
such as a streaming proposal that would require
producers give writers more money than they
make themselves, the WGA organisers are on an
ideological mission far removed from the interests
of their members.
Quixotic pursuit of radical demands led them
to begin this strike, and now has caused this
breakdown in negotiations. We hope that the
WGA will come back to this table with a rational
plan that can lead us to a fair and equitable
resolution to a strike that is causing so much
distress for so many people in our industry
AMPTP says that WGA demands full control over
reality television and animation. "In other
words, they want us to make membership in their
union mandatory to work in this industry
even though thousands of people in reality and
animation have already chosen not to join the
AMPTP further argues that the WGA's proposal
for Internet compensation could actually cost
producers more than they receive in revenues,
thereby dooming the Internet media business
before it ever gets started.
is not just writers and producers that are affected.
Many service providers to the entertainment
industry are starting to feel the pinch. Production
workers rallied in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday
to urge the two parties to strike a deal.
'Strike A Deal' march and rally was the result
of "a spontaneous grass-roots outgrowth
of the concern and desire and below-the-line
industry professionals and vendors whose jobs,
livelihoods and futures hang in the balance,"
according to a statement posted on its blog,
state that 15,000 jobs have already been lost.
California's economy is said to be losing over
$20 million each day.