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02.15.2008
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Writers vote to end strike

Hollywood’s writers went back to work last week after ending their strike at the 100-day mark. Of 3775 writers who cast ballots, 92.5 percent voted in favor of ending the strike. Officials of the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East disclosed results of the tally an hour after voting.

The decision to end the strike became all but inevitable after the guilds’ governing boards on Sunday unanimously approved the tentative three-year agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, following strong expressions of support at mass meetings on both coasts. Union members must still decide whether to ratify the contract in coming days.

The writers’ dispute was settled when company executives — notably Peter Chernin, the News Corporation president, and Robert A. Iger, the Walt Disney chief executive — opened talks with Patric M. Verrone, president of the West Coast guild, along with David J. Young, executive director of the West Coast guild, and John Bowman, who headed the unions’ negotiating committee.

Under the terms of the agreement, minimum rates generally increase 3.5 percent each year. The exceptions are: network prime time rates and daytime serial script fees increase 3 percent each period; program fees and the upset price increase once by 3 percent in the second year; and clip fees increase once by 5 percent in the third year.

In the new media area — a main source of contention in the strike — writers secured the following: If a new media program is derivative of a standard television program, minimums for initial compensation apply. The minimum for derivative dramatic programs is $618 for programs up to two minutes, plus $309 for each additional minute. The minimum for derivative comedy-variety and daytime serials is $360 for programs up to two minutes, plus $180 for each additional minute. The minimum for all other types of derivative programs is $309 for programs up to two minutes, plus $155 for each additional minute. Regardless of the length of the program, initial compensation can be no less than the two-minute rate. For original programs, initial compensation is negotiable.

Initial compensation for Internet residuals covers writing services and 13 weeks of availability in new media when the viewer does not pay, and 26 weeks of availability in new media when the viewer pays. After those periods, certain residuals are payable:

  • if a new media program derived from a guild-covered program or an original new media program with a budget higher than $25,000 per minute is reused in new media, the new media reuse provisions described below apply, except that electronic sell-through is paid at 1.2 percent of distributor’s gross receipts; and
  • for original new media programs, the residual for ad-supported streaming is negotiable, while reuse where the viewer pays is compensated at 1.2 percent of distributor’s gross receipts.

If the viewer pays for limited new media access to a program, residuals are paid at the rate of 1.2 percent of distributor’s gross receipts. If the viewer pays for permanent use of the program, residuals are paid at 0.36 percent of distributor’s gross receipts for the first 100,000 downloads of a television program and the first 50,000 downloads of a feature. After that, residuals are paid at 0.7 percent of distributor’s gross receipts for television programs and 0.65 percent for feature films.

Ad-supported streaming of television programs is payable at 2 percent of distributor’s gross receipts one year from the end of an initial streaming window.


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