Talks Day #6: WGA Presses On Reality TV

The talks will resume on Thursday. But I’m told by a mogul that the reason the second half of the AMPTP proposal — which presumably contains an offer about electronic sell-through (ESTs) — has not yet seen the light of day is because “no one is prepared to put anything new on the table until there’s movement on other issues.” Oh, c’mon!

So the AMPTP had an internal meeting today about the WGA’s offer on streaming but didn’t bring any counter/counter-offer on New Media to the table. The WGA in an end-of-day statement tonight said “we are still waiting for the AMPTP to respond to … Internet streaming of theatrical and TV product and digital downloads.” The producers’ end-of-day statement tonight was generic, not detailed.

The largest part of today’s negotiations were taken over by the WGA’s small group discussion of jurisdiction for Reality TV and made-for-Web content as well as animation and cable. I’ve learned the WGA played hardball by demanding that network and studio CEOs no longer make deals with Reality TV producers like Mark Burnett Productions, Fremantle, Endemol etc unless those companies become signatories of the WGA. This is part of the WGA’s continuing campaign to ensure that Reality TV writers — often referred to as the story editors or story producers of the shows — start to receive the same benefits and pay and protections as guild members. (Of course, further complicating matters is that some Reality TV shows have signed deals with IA, the editors guild.) It’s also clear the WGA’s demand today was timed to this Friday’s big writers protest outside Fremantle Media headquarters.

Needless to say, network CEOs expressed disbelief and anger that the WGA would try to put Reality TV on the table today. I swear one mogul was going to have a coronary, sputtering as he charged that today’s talks were “going backwards”. (Did the producers not hear that Variety erroneously reported pre-strike that the WGA negotiators had dropped their nonscripted proposal? On the other hand, don’t the writers consider New Media formulas a more pressing issue? Am I starting to lose the will to live?)

Interestingly, the WGA’s demand that all made-for-web work be placed under the guild’s full jurisdiction didn’t seem to hit a nerve with either the AMPTP or its CEOs.

This article was printed from