Writers Guild and AMPTP reach a tentative agreement

The Writers Guild of American and the AMPTP reached a tentative agreement on Saturday, which the Guild will vote on within a 48-hour voting process. A letter from the presidents of the WGA East and West (Michael Winship and Patric Verrone, respectively) to WGA members and a summary of the tentative deal can be read at Coming Soon.

I’m no lawyer, but I think that the assertion, in the letter, of this agreement as “(establishing) the principle that, ‘When they get paid, we get paid,'” seems a bit generous. There are obvious concessions, such as an Initial Streaming Window, under which “an initial window of 17 days (24 days for episodes of the first season of a series, one-off television programs, and MOWs) with no residual… contiguous to the initial television exhibition.”

The DGA’s recently ratified deal contains a similar clause, of course, so the WGA not getting some version of it in their own final agreement was highly unlikely. But no matter how you look at it, it’s bad news for creatives: the vast majority of a TV program’s episodes are streamed within a week of their initial showing.

The fact that downloads and rentals have no such window leads some to speculate that distributors will try to withhold making downloads or rentals available until after that window has closed. A post over at United Hollywood suggests that audiences won’t let the distributors get away with this sort of behavior. I’m not so sure, because one company is already doing it, albeit for different reasons than ripping off WGA & DGA members: since NBC pulled their shows from iTunes, NBC.com remains the only way for cable-less me to watch The Office or 30 Rock, effectively forcing me to watch the show via streaming not download.

United Hollywood also has a more in-depth pro/con discussion of the window here.

UPDATED (4:45pm): According to Monday’s Hollywood Reporter, the ratification vote will take place on Tuesday. “It’s not all we hoped for and all we deserved, but this strike was about the future, and this deal assures us a share of the future,” the article quotes Patric Verrone as during a press conference today. Backed by the WGA leadership, the vote is expected to pass, however the ratification process is expected to take 10–12 days.

Posted on February 10, 2008 at 11:09 by Gordon@MovieMakeout · Permalink
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