The WGA today invited all franchised agents to apply to sign its proposed Code of Conduct, which bans agents from entering into packaging and production deals. The guild said the proposed Code, which is subject to ratification by its members on March 25, will go into effect after the April 6 expiration of its current agreement with the ATA.
“We are continuing to talk to the agencies and any additional changes we agree to will be applied to all agencies,” the guild said tonight in a notice to its members. “The final Code of Conduct will be subject to membership ratification in late March.”
The Code largely conforms to the proposals the WGA sent to the Association of Talent Agencies a year ago. “The proposals banning conflicts of interest remain unchanged,” the guild said, but its negotiating committee has made three modifications to the guild’s original proposals, based on feedback from WGA members and discussions with the ATA and other agencies.
The most significant change is the removal of the ban on agencies commissioning scale. “This was a difficult decision,” the guild said. “Protecting the full minimum for writers at scale remains a valid goal. Yet many smaller agencies argued persuasively that, without the ability to charge commission on scale, they could not afford to invest time and effort nurturing the careers of entry-level writers. And we heard from a significant number of anxious members concerned they and other newer or lower-level writers would simply be dropped by their agencies. Further, since this group of new writers has seen the greatest inroads for inclusion, our fear is the ban could potentially harm under-represented categories of writers who have been historically disadvantaged by our industry. For these reasons and others, the Negotiating Committee concluded that a blanket ban on commissioning scale in the Code is not in the best interest of writers.
“The other, minor modifications focus on agents’ obligations to disclose information about potential jobs to their writer clients. The original proposals prohibited agents from submitting their clients for jobs unless the underlying intellectual property had been secured by the producer. Under the current Code of Conduct, agents will have to disclose whether the rights to underlying property have been acquired by producers so members can decide whether they want to take the job. In addition, the Code of Conduct requires the agent to disclose the names of any other clients that are employed or are seeking employment on the same project if the writer client asks for this information.”