The AMPTP issued a statement tonight and the WGA’s is below that. The negotiations broke down today not because of the traditional DVD residual issue, but about residuals for the Internet such as electronic sell-through — i.e. Internet downloads. The AMPTP keeps saying electronic sell-through is synonymous with DVDs. The WGA says they’re different and wants to negotiate a new residual formula. AMPTP refuses. Everyone knows that New Media and the Internet are the overriding issues of this negotiation. And now no more bargaining is skedded because of them. (… Remember, DHD comments are turned on. Opine away!) :

“AMPTP POSITION STATED TO THE WGAW AND WGAE TODAY
BY AMPTP PRESIDENT NICK COUNTER

“We’ve been working hard to come up with a package in response to your last proposal.  But we keep running up against the DVD issue. The companies believe that movement is possible on other issues, but they cannot make any movement when confronted with your continuing efforts to increase the DVD formula, including the formula for electronic sell-through.

The magnitude of that proposal alone is blocking us from making any further progress. We cannot move further as long as that issue remains on the table. In short, the DVD issue is a complete roadblock to any further progress.

This cannot come as a surprise. Before the negotiations began, Writers Guild of America West President Patric Verrone met with many CEOs. The consistent message from the CEOs was that, for overriding business reasons, the home video formula would not be changed.  Nevertheless, you proposed to increase the DVD formula in these negotiations.</p>

<p>We want to make a deal. We think doing so is in your best interests, in your members’ best interests, in the best interests of our companies and in the best interests of the industry.  But, as I said, no further movement is possible to close the gap between us so long as your DVD proposal remains on the table. In referring to DVDs, we include not only traditional DVDs, but also electronic sell-through — i.e., permanent downloads. As you know, we believe that electronic sell-through is synonymous with DVD.

There are pending claims with regard to electronic sell-through that will be resolved through the arbitration process. But to make any new agreement with you, residuals for the DVD market, including electronic sell-through, must be paid under the existing home video formula.

We are ready and willing to proceed to reach agreement with you. We call upon you to take the necessary steps now to break this impasse so that bargaining can continue for our mutual benefit and the good of everyone else who works in this industry.”

POSTSCRIPT: After Nick Counter presented the above position, the WGA advised us that they were not prepared to continue tonight. When asked about tomorrow, they said no, we have a membership meeting. When they were asked about Friday, they advised they would call us.

2ND UPDATE: The WGA issued this “Latest Word” tonight:

“The WGA Negotiating Committee, on behalf of the Writers of Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), has issued the following statement regarding Contract 2007 negotiations:

Today, just hours before the expiration of our contract, the AMPTP brought negotiations to a halt. The Companies refused to continue to bargain unless we agree that the hated DVD formula be extended to Internet downloads.

This morning we presented the AMPTP with a comprehensive package of proposals that included movement on DVDs, new media, and jurisdictional issues. We also took nine proposals off the table. The Companies returned six hours later and said they would not respond to our package until we capitulated to their Internet demand.

After three and a half months of bargaining, the AMPTP still has not responded to a single one of our important proposals. Every issue that matters to writers, including Internet reuse, original writing for new media, DVDs, and jurisdiction, has been ignored. This is completely unacceptable.

There will be a WGA West membership meeting in Los Angeles Thursday night.”

UPDATE: More details about the WGA’s “Comprehensive Package Proposal” presented today are here. In the meantime, there’s a new blog by a member of the WGA “Communications Committee” at UnitedHollywood.com. It critiques the media coverage of this breaking story as well as imparts info.

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