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Saturday, February 09, 2008

International Television: WGA Strike will be over if contract signed.

Writers Announce Tentative Deal
Work could restart next week if contract is approved

By Rick Porter
February 9, 2008


















Writers walk the picket lines.



The Writers Guild of America announced a tentative deal with studios late Friday, which if approved could get striking scribes back to work as soon as next week.

The agreement "protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery," guild presidents Patric Verrone and Michael Winship write in a letter to members. It also "establishes the principle that, 'When they get paid, we get paid.'"

Writers began their strike on Nov. 5 after fruitless negotiations with studios over residual payments for streaming video and downloads of movie and TV shows, shutting down nearly all scripted TV production and delaying several prominent movie projects. Episodes of most prime-time series dried up in December and January, forcing the broadcast networks to cobble together schedules of reruns, reality shows and midseason replacements. Ratings have fallen.

The announcement of the deal came only hours before Writers Guild membership meetings in New York and Los Angeles, at which guild leaders will explain the deal and hear from members. The boards of the WGA East and West could meet as soon as Sunday to approve the deal and end the strike, meaning writers could return to their jobs by Monday.

Once writers do return, new episodes of TV series would follow within a few weeks. Sitcoms would likely make it back on the air first, with dramas taking a little longer to ramp up again. Networks will likely pick and choose which series they want back; some new series may be held until the fall.

A deal would also allow the Oscars, set for Sunday, Feb. 24, to proceed without the specter of pickets.

The writers' tentative agreement includes several key points related to streaming and downloads of TV shows and movies, which had been the major sticking point between the guild and media conglomerates during the strike.

Payments for streaming of TV series will initially be a fixed amount of about $1,300 a year for an hour-long show (and about half that for half-hours), which is similar to the deal the Directors Guild negotiated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers last month.

In the third year of the writers' contract, however, streaming payments will switch to a percentage formula, with scribes getting 2 percent of the distributor's revenue. The percentage ensures that if, as is widely predicted, proceeds from streaming take off, writers will be able to share in the growth.

The deal also includes a slight bump for downloads of movies and TV shows and a 1.2-percent residual in the relatively new market of download rentals, as well as increases in minimum pay each year and guild jurisdiction over projects created specifically for new media. (A summary of the deal is at UnitedHollywood.com.)

"Much has been achieved," Verrone and Winship say in their letter, "and while this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success.

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This site was created during Dec. 30, 2006 (Philippine Time) known as "Kapamilya Pinoy Blogspot" at first but the author decided to change it to "TV Craze," on 5:06 a.m., February 12, 2008 (Philippine time). KPB still exists but it serves as a portal to this site for those who embraced its name. The name may have changed but the contents are still the same.

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