Directors And Producers Sign Pact; Writers Next?
All eyes turned to the Writers Guild of America Thursday after the Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers concluded a three-year agreement that significantly raised the directors' residuals payments for shows sold on the Internet. In a statement, DGA President Michael Apted said, "This was a very difficult negotiation that required real give-and-take on both sides. In a separate statement, alliance President Nick Counter said, "Both parties were determined to focus on the core issues that are most important to all of us." Counter's remarks appeared to be a jab at the writers, who had insisted on putting demands for jurisdiction over reality shows and animation on the negotiating table, matters the AMPTP had refused to consider. Under the agreement with the directors, the studios and production companies will pay a residual of about $600 whenever ads are sold on a one-hour program that is streamed over the Internet for more than 17 days. Additional payments are spelled out for programs that are streamed for more than 26 weeks. The deal also essentially doubles the residual rate for paid downloads of TV shows and movies, based on distributors' grosses, after the first 100,000 downloads (50,000 in the case of feature films). The New York Times reported today (Friday) that a $2-million study commissioned by the DGA determined that producers will continue to earn a negligible amount of revenue from digital media until at least 2010. Thursday's agreement also calls for doubling the residual rate on DVDs. Nevertheless, the WGA has made it clear that it will act independently in negotiating a deal with the studios and will not be bound by the terms of a DGA deal. Asked about the deal, Writers Guild of America West President Patric Verrone said cryptically, "I don't want to prejudge it." Doug Allen, executive director of the Screen Actors Guild, which is also due to begin talks with the producers, said that he had only seen a press release and wanted to see "more specifics." Nevertheless, many analysts commented that it was unlikely that the writers would be able to negotiate a separate deal that would be more lucrative than the one with the directors.