Directors Guild Reaches Deal With Producers

Accord Includes Increased Residual Payment for Digital Downloads

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LOS ANGELES ( -- After 12 weeks of alternately bargaining and bashing labor, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers today achieved something that Hollywood hasn't had in a very long while: a workable deal.
Directors and studios have reached a deal regarding residual payments for digital downloads.
Directors and studios have reached a deal regarding residual payments for digital downloads.

Pay for downloads
The AMPTP has made a preliminary pact with the Directors Guild of America that more than doubles the current residual payments for TV-show downloads, and hikes residuals on film downloads by 80%, labor leaders said. A payment of nearly $600 for ad-supported streaming video is triggered after the first 17 days online, followed by additional payments after 26 weeks; that brings the total to $1,200 for a year's worth of streaming video.

The deal also offers an increase in base wages for each year of the contract.

In a joint statement, the CEOs of the various member media companies touted the agreement as a landmark deal that allowed the industry's creative talent to "participate financially in every emerging area of new media."

But will it put the town's writers to work?

After weeks of vituperative accusations that the Writers Guild of America were seeking only "havoc," the CEOs joint statement extended an olive branch to the writers. "We hope that this agreement with DGA will signal the beginning of the end of this extremely difficult period for our industry," it said. "Today, we invite the Writers Guild of America to engage with us in a series of informal discussions similar to the productive process that led us to a deal with the DGA to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for returning to formal bargaining. We look forward to these discussions, and to the day when our entire industry gets back to work."

In a statement, the WGA said: "Now that the DGA has reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP, the terms of the deal will be carefully analyzed and evaluated by the WGA, the WGA's Negotiating Committee, the WGAW Board of Directors, and the WGAE Council. We will work with the full membership of both Guilds to discuss our strategies for our own negotiations and contract goals and how they may be affected by such a deal. ... For over a month, we have been urging the conglomerates to return to the table and bargain in good faith. They have chosen to negotiate with the DGA instead. Now that those negotiations are completed, the AMPTP must return to the process of bargaining with the WGA. We hope that the DGA's tentative agreement will be a step forward in our effort to negotiate an agreement that is in the best interests of all writers."

Go it alone
The guild, however, did try to make clear that it was willing to go it alone for quite some time longer, and that at least some directors were willing to go along with them.

In a separate, earlier statement to the media, director and producer Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity," "Mr. and Mrs. Smith") announced the formation of a new media company, "Jackson Bites," which will create TV-style programming for alternative distribution online, via cable and satellite companies and wireless ventures. His new company, Mr. Liman said, had entered into an agreement with the WGA effective immediately.

"If the last strike is best remembered for the studios attempting to show they could create programming without writers, this could be the strike where the writers show they can do it without the studios," said Mr. Liman.
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