Networks and studios are sending out identical emails to their employees today about the writers strike and upcoming WGA-AMPTP negotiations (only the name of the company is changed). Here is what Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer and Alan Horn had to say, and I think it strikes the right tone (albeit their strike-related facts) so neither side has to choke down their turkey and cranberry going into Monday’s talks:
“As you may know by now, leaders of the AMPTP and WGA have mutually agreed to resume formal negotiations on November 26. Both sides have also agreed that no other details or press statements about the talks will be issued. We think that restraint is important going forward and will make sensible, productive talks far more likely.
The resumption of talks is very welcome news indeed to everyone in our business. We are all, producers and writers alike, looking forward to an end to this strike and realize that there’s no way it can be resolved unless both sides are talking. Sitting down for serious discussions is an important first step in the resolution of our differences.
These differences are substantial, but we continue to believe that with hard work, patience and compromise on both sides, they can be overcome. One crucial fact that has been somewhat overlooked in all the noise surrounding the strike is that we, the members of the AMPTP, as producers of television programs and motion picture entertainment, have always believed that writers should be compensated when their work is distributed through new media and that they deserve to share in whatever success new technologies create. In fact, the industry has already paid millions of dollars in residuals for permanent and pay-per-view downloads. So while the terms of those payments may be on the table, the basic principle that writers should be compensated is not the issue.
During the last bargaining session several weeks ago, the AMPTP companies believe that we had made some significant proposals on several matters of importance to Guild members, among them the key issues of Internet streaming and new media jurisdiction. But there are still many issues that need to be resolved that will take hard work and compromise by both sides.
Suffice it to say that while we are committed to hammering out a fair deal with our WGA members, Warner Bros. cannot make an agreement that places our company at a disadvantage or makes it impossible for us to meet our commitments to our many constituencies—other employees, shareholders, the producers with whom we work, and the public that, these days, is constantly redefining the way they experience our content.
The producing organizations and the writers who are so integral to our business are both facing the same challenge. We live in a new-media world, and all of us must wrestle with the 21st century realities of our business. Going forward, we must work together to craft a new contract that is fair and keeps our business strong.
Until then, we remain prepared in every way to keep Warner Bros. operating at its customary high level of performance.
We think a new, fair deal is possible. As an industry, we have done such deals before. We will do them again.
We will continue to stay in touch with you as the situation develops. Until then, we wish you and yours a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.”