Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What's the Deal?

We haven't been hearing much detail yet on the WGA deal in process, but here are a few data points:

On ad-supported streaming, Variety says the deal is initially similar to the DGA deal - in other words, a fixed dollar residual. No word if the amount is the same as in the DGA deal, and it might be difficult to make the amounts match exactly, because the fixed dollar amount in the DGA deal is keyed off of provisions in the DGA agreement that may not be identical to those in the WGA agreement.

In any case, note that I say "initially" similar. The WGA agreement has a three-year term. Variety reports that for streaming occurring in the first two years of that term, the fixed amount would apply. In the third year, the residual would be 2% of distributors gross (i.e., the amount that the network receives). This is a great improvement.

In contrast, the New York Post reports that the deal on ad-supported streaming is altogether different: their sources say that it is a tiered system based on viewership (no word on how the tiers would work or what the payment amounts would be). They also say that the 17 to 24-day free promotional window (during which no residuals are payable) has been shrunk to 7 days.

I don't know which of these reports, if either, is correct. However, either one of these approaches would probably be a victory for the WGA.

Variety also reports that the WGA has obtained separated rights for programs created for the Internet. This technical-sounding provision, which has no analogue in the DGA agreement, means that writers could receive various payments if, for instance, material they create for the Internet is later turned into a TV show or movie. That's another win for the WGA.

I haven't heard reports of any other differences from the DGA deal, but no doubt there are some. Also, there are a miscellany of other issues that are WGA specific.

Just for fun, let's look back at the six "roadblocks" the AMPTP cited when it walked out of talks in December:

  1. Reality jurisdiction. The WGA dropped this demand a few weeks ago.
  2. Animation jurisdiction. The WGA dropped this demand a few weeks ago.
  3. Sympathy strikes. Status unknown, but the WGA has probably dropped this demand.
  4. Distributors gross as a basis for residual calculation. The AMPTP conceded this point for the DGA, probably as a result of pressure from the WGA strike.
  5. Self-dealing transactions. The AMPTP gave the DGA some advances in this area.
  6. Industry standards (requirement that subcontracted work be subject to terms of Guild agreement). Status unknown.