Writ­ers fo­cus on Web pay is­sues

Los Angeles Times - - Business - By Richard Verrier

Amid height­ened la­bor ten­sions in Hol­ly­wood, union lead­ers rep­re­sent­ing film and TV writ­ers have out­lined a se­ries of de­mands they plan to make in up­com­ing stu­dio con­tract talks, with com­pen­sa­tion for work ap­pear­ing on the In­ter­net a top pri­or­ity.

The Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica’s east and west unions sent their “pat­tern of de­mands” Fri­day to more than 12,000 writ­ers.

Mem­bers will vote on the is­sues that the guild hopes to put on the bar­gain­ing ta­ble when con­tract talks be­gin July 16. The cur­rent three-year con­tract ex­pires Oct. 31.

As ex­pected, the de­mands call for for­mu­las that fairly com­pen­sate writ­ers for the re­use of their work on­line, and for new ma­te­rial cre­ated for the In­ter­net and other new me­dia.

“As new creative op­por­tu­ni­ties and in­come streams emerge in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, we must en­sure that writ­ers get their fair share of rev­enue gen­er­ated by the con­tent they cre­ate,” Patric M. Ver­rone, pres­i­dent of the Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica, West, said in a state­ment.

Writ­ers also will seek to ex­pand ju­ris­dic­tion in such ar­eas as re­al­ity TV, an­i­ma­tion and game shows while push­ing to im­prove resid­u­als — the fees writ­ers are paid when their work is reused.

The for­mula for DVD resid­u­als has long been de­cried by mem­bers as an­ti­quated and un­fair.

The de­mands, pre­pared by a ne­go­ti­at­ing com­mit­tee led by writer John F. Bow­man, come at a time when ma­jor stu­dios and net­works al­ready are tak­ing steps to pre­pare for a pos­si­ble strike.

Moves in­clude push­ing up shoot­ing sched­ules and or­der­ing ad­di­tional episodes of TV dra­mas and re­al­ity shows.

Chief stu­dio ne­go­tia­tor J. Ni­cholas Counter, pres­i­dent of the Al­liance of Mo­tion Pic­ture and Television Pro­duc­ers, called the de­mands an “as­sault on the en­tire in­dus­try.”

“We are com­mit­ted to mak­ing a deal — one that is fair to both sides . . . one that is re­al­is­tic, rea­son­able and re­spects our con­tri­bu­tions and our busi­ness needs as well as theirs,” he said.

Pro­duc­ers are ex­pected to push for new resid­ual for­mu­las that kick in only af­ter shows break even.

“We have been pay­ing resid­u­als on losses for far too long,” Counter said. “It is time to re­ex­am­ine the en­tire eco­nomic land­scape.”


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