No early present under the Christmas tree today. After another week of talks that had everyone hoping Hollywood would finally put an end to the month-old strike, talks collapsed today between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the WGA. And it’s unclear when–or if–the two sides will return to the table.
As has become customary, both sides came out firing with their own statements accusing the other party of derailing talks with unreasonable demands. The AMPTP struck first with this particularly angry missive about the WGA’s tactics:
“We’re disappointed to report that talks between the AMPTP and WGA have broken down yet again. Quite frankly, we’re 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 organizers sitting across the table from us have never concluded even one industry accord.
“We believe our New Economic Partnership proposal, which would increase the average working writer’s salary to more than $230,000 a year, makes it possible to find common ground. And we have proved over the last five months that we want writers to participate in producers’ revenues, including in theatrical and television streaming, as well as other areas of new media. However, under no circumstances will we knowingly participate in the destruction of this business.
“While the WGA’s organizers can clearly stage rallies, concerts and mock exorcisms, we have serious concerns about whether they’re capable of reaching reasonable compromises that are in the best interests of our entire industry. It is now absolutely clear that the WGA’s organizers are determined to advance their own political ideologies and personal agendas at the expense of working writers and every other working person who depends on our industry for their livelihoods.”
The statement goes on to say the WGA has made a number of “unreasonable demands” instead of negotiating, such as asking for restrictions “designed to prevent networks from airing any reality programs unless they are produced under terms in keeping with the WGA agreement.”
Within minutes, the WGA replied with a statement of their own accusing the AMPTP of coming back to them with a counter-offer that included “a total rejection of our proposal on Internet streaming on Dec. 3… They 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 distributor’s gross as a basis for residuals. This 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.
“We received a similar ultimatum through back channels prior to the discussions of November 4. At that time, we were assured that if we took DVD’s off the table, we would get a fair offer on new media issues. That offer never materialized.”
No new negotiations are scheduled at this time.