The WGA West and CBS have reached a $3.4 million settlement of a residuals dispute arising from the reuse of 62 of the network’s shows on its now-rebranded CBS All Access subscription streaming service.
“When CBS launched CBS All Access, the company used much of its own television programming to establish and grow the service,” guild leaders said in a letter to members today. “Writers of these television programs were owed a residual of 1.2% of the license fee for usage on CBS All Access. Because CBS owns CBS All Access, our contract requires the company to calculate license fees by using comparable CBS television shows licensed in arms-length transactions.”
The guild said that this protection is necessary “to ensure that companies do not undervalue license fees – and therefore underpay residuals – when licensing content to themselves. In a world where most of the major studios have or soon will launch their own streaming services, this continues to be a vital enforcement issue for the guild to address.”
The WGA West’s legal team claimed that CBS had undervalued the license fees it used for shows that were reused on CBS All Access, from its inception in 2014 through 2020.
“We worked with CBS to reach a settlement that not only appropriately values the license fees for the programming you’ve written, but also includes interest owed for the late payment,” guild leaders said, who noted that checks will be going out to the affected writers over the next two weeks.
Guild leaders said that they “will continue to monitor how CBS values its television programs and pays residuals for reuse on the new service going forward.”
The letter was signed by WGA West president David A. Goodman, vice president Marjorie David; secretary-treasurer Michele Mulroney, senior counsel Alisa Schlesinger and assistant general counsel Kathy Christovich.