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Writers, Producers Reach Tentative Deal

9 Feb, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Picketing writers.

The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Feb. 9 said they reached a tentative contract settlement that if ratified could end the three-month old entertainment strike.

The agreement, which would be effective through May 1, 2011, gives the WGA long sought jurisdiction and minimum compensation amounts for professionally created and repurposed new media content, including through the Internet and cellular technology, among other provisions.

Guild members are expected to vote on the contract Feb. 12 in New York and Los Angeles, and if ratified, could return to work as early as Feb. 13.

There apparently is no change to the current DVD residual rate, which pays 3% for TV and 3.6% (movies) of the distributor's gross receipts.

In a letter to members, Patric Verrone, president of WGA, West, and Michael Winship, president WGA, East, urged writers to accept the agreement, calling it the best deal in 30 years.

“We believe that continuing to strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike,” Verrone and Winship said in a statement. “Much has been achieved, and while this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success.”

WGA jurisdiction includes derivatives of guild-covered content and/or if the Web-based content's budget meets any of three thresholds, including $15,000 per minute; $300,000 per program or $500,000 per series.

Minimum new media derivative compensation for writers of dramatic programming includes $618 for up to two minutes, plus $309 for each additional minute. Comedy, variety and daytime serials receive $360 for two minutes, plus $180 for each additional minute. Other derivative programming receives $309 for up to two-minutes, plus $155 for each additional minute.

Creators of Web-based content that becomes a TV series or feature film are protected, including copyrights and right to sell and license the material.

Residuals for material re-purposed online include 1.2% of distributor's gross for download rentals (streaming), 0.36% of distributor's gross for electronic sellthrough of the first 100,000 episodic TV downloads and 50,000 feature film units. Above those figures, TV downloads pay 0.7% of distributor's gross and 0.65% for movies.

Ad-supported streaming of theatrical movies produced after July 1, 1971 pay 1.2% of distributor's gross. Ad-supported library TV content produced after 1977 pay 2% of distributor's gross.

New ad-supported TV streams pay 2% of the distributor's gross.

All streamed content is subject to a 17-day window (24 days for first season TV programs, one-off TV shows and movies-of-the week) contiguous to the initial TV broadcast whereby writers receive no residuals.

In the first and second years of the contract following the initial window, a 3% residual base fee for prime time TV network programming is paid for a period up to 52 weeks. All other TV programming receives 3% in the first two years of the contract, 3.5% in the third year.

Hour programs receive $654 per period in the first year and $677 in the second year. Half-hour programs receive $360 in the first year and $373 in the second. In the third year, 2% of the distributor's gross revenue is applied following the initial window.

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