Clearly not willing to let the WGA win the PR war, the producers’ alliance issued another angry press release Monday that takes the writers’ guild to task in an effort to “set the record straight” about several union claims, including some made by negotiating chairman John Bowman to EW. Among the so-called “factually inaccurate” comments that the AMPTP attempted to correct: claims by the WGA that this negotiation is only about sharing the revenue from new media, i.e. Internet streaming. According to the four-page release, “negotiations broke down [Dec. 7] primarily over one of the most old-fashioned issues of all: the desire of the WGA’s organizers to increase their own power and prestige by expanding the jurisdiction of the union over reality TV and animation writers.” On Friday, the AMPTP told the WGA that it would “refuse to continue negotiating as long as the proposal to organize the reality and animation writers remained on the table.”
The AMPTP also took issue with comments made by Bowman, who told EW, “We could have gotten this done in two days if they’d come in wheeling and dealing, and they’re not.” According to the AMPTP letter, “the WGA’s organizers refused repeated requests by the producers to begin negotiations much earlier, in the spring of 2007. Had negotiations begun when the producers wanted them to start, perhaps the industry would not now be in the midst of this strike.”
The AMPTP also quarrels with Bowman’s remark to EW that the AMPTP “always give ultimatums. They say if you won’t do this we won’t talk to you anymore. Like the night before we went on strike [Nov. 4], they said, `Before you take DVDs off the table, we won’t give you an Internet proposal.’ And we took DVDs off the table [but] they didn’t give us [anything].” It’s the AMPTP’s contention that the producers never demanded that the writers pull its DVD proposal as a precondition to making an offer on Internet residuals. In fact, the AMPTP says, their actions proved otherwise when the companies presented the writers with a “new TV streaming residual proposal before the WGA withdrew its proposal to double DVD residuals.”
And the sniping continued with a direct swipe at WGA West President Patric Verrone, who had remarked to AP, “I don’t really feel like [the studios] are negotiating.” The AMPTP claims it’s Verrone who wasn’t even present at the session on Dec. 7, “because he was attending a rock concert and rally held to support the WGA’s still-unsuccessful attempt to organize reality TV writers.”
No doubt, a response from the WGA will be forthcoming.