Apple’s TV development arm, which is gearing up to produce scripted content, has signed the WGA basic agreement. Guild officials are calling it a “significant” development as they prepare for their next round of collective bargaining for a new industry-wide minimum basic agreement (MBA).
“Apple has agreed to better-than-MBA terms if its programming is offered free to consumers online,” said WGA West president David A. Goodman and executive director David Young, and WGA East president Beau Willimon and executive director Lowell Peterson, in identical missive to their members. “This means that writers employed by the new signatory, Apple Development LLC, will have MBA terms like script fees, weeklies and residuals for any show that airs free to the consumer.”
“These deal terms are significant,” they said, because “the current MBA does not contain minimums or residuals for projects on free-to-consumer services. Terms have to be negotiated on a writer by writer basis. Except now, at Apple.”
They also noted that. while “almost all guild-covered Internet programming has thus far been under a subscription (consumer pay) model – like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu – Facebook has already launched shows on their free-to-consumer service. As this market develops, it will be imperative to negotiate MBA protections for writers creating content for such services. Our Apple deal moves us in that direction while the 2020 negotiations are still two years away.”
“It is important to point out,” they said, “that currently these MBA-plus terms apply only to writers working directly for the Apple signatory. The guild is looking to assist members who are developing shows with other producers for Apple, Facebook, Crackle or other free-to-consumer platforms, in order to negotiate appropriate contract terms.”