Archive for December 2nd, 2008

WGA in Arbitration

2nd December 2008 by Maura McHugh

Last month the Writers Guild of America West announced that it had filed for arbitration against the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers – the AMPTP – over non-payment of residuals from new media.

“Our agreement with the companies on material released to EST covers feature films produced after July 1, 1971, and television programs produced after 1977,” said John F. Bowman, WGAW Board member and chair of the 2007 WGA Negotiating Committee. “The companies have reneged on this agreement and are taking the position that only programs produced after February 13, 2008 are covered by the new provision. This may be their deal with the DGA, but that was never our agreement. Every proposal we made during negotiations made clear our position that library product was covered, and the AMPTP never objected to that position. The Guild will not allow this to stand.”

The Guild is also preparing to file for arbitration against the AMPTP companies for failing to pay residuals due for the streaming of television shows on the Internet. “Our tracking has shown that episodes are staying on websites longer than the 17-day initial window called for in the contract. This triggers the payment of a residual, but so far we’ve seen nothing,” said David Young, executive director of the WGAW. “Given the reports by the conglomerates of the growth of the number of shows being streamed and increases in new media revenues, this is an unacceptable situation.”

“In light of the fact that writers are not being paid for new media reuse, it’s unconscionable that the AMPTP proclaims on its website, ‘By working under an expired contract, SAG members are not receiving the new media residuals that other Guild members are already collecting,’” said WGAW President Patric M. Verrone. “The companies know what is being streamed, and they regularly announce how successful they are in generating online advertising revenue, so there’s no reason for them not to honor the agreement they made with us.”

Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood covers the reply from the AMPTP as well as the WGAW’s response to the excuses.