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HomeBlog the LineAh, shit! Talks collapse: AMPTP breaks off negotiations (with "tempers flare" update)

Ah, shit! Talks collapse: AMPTP breaks off negotiations (with “tempers flare” update)


The WGA statement from earlier this evening:


Today, after three days of discussions, the AMPTP came back to us with a proposal that included a total rejection of our proposal on Internet streaming of December 3rd.

They are holding to their offer of a $250 fixed residual for unlimited one year streaming after a six-week window of free use. They still insist on the DVD rate for Internet downloads.

They refuse to cover original material made for new media.

This offer was accompanied by an ultimatum: the AMPTP demands we give up several of our proposals, including Fair Market Value (our protection against vertical integration and self-dealing), animation, reality, and, most crucially, any proposal that uses distributor’s gross as a basis for residuals. This would require us to concede most of our Internet proposal as a precondition for continued bargaining. The AMPTP insists we let them do to the Internet what they did to home video.

We received a similar ultimatum through back channels prior to the discussions of November 4th. At that time, we were assured that if we took DVDs off the table, we would get a fair offer on new media issues. That offer never materialized.

We reject the idea of an ultimatum. Although a number of items we have on the table are negotiable, we cannot be forced to bargain with ourselves. The AMPTP has many proposals on the table that are unacceptable to writers, but we have never delivered ultimatums.

As we prepared our counter-offer, at 6:05 p.m., Nick Counter came and said to us, in the mediator’s presence: “We are leaving. When you write us a letter saying you will take all these items off the table, we will reschedule negotiations with you.” Within minutes, the AMPTP had posted a lengthy statement announcing the breakdown of negotiations.

We remain ready and willing to negotiate, no matter how intransigent our bargaining partners are, because the stakes are simply too high. We were prepared to counter their proposal tonight, and when any of them are ready to return to the table, we’re here, ready to make a fair deal.

John F. Bowman

Chairman, Negotiating Committee

Contract 2007

Saturday morning, CNN ran this article, and here’s a snippet:

Tempers flare as studios break off talks with writers

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) — Talks to end Hollywood’s writers’ strike abruptly ended Friday evening as studio negotiators walked out, accusing Writers Guild of America leaders of putting personal political agendas above the interests of writers.

Striking Hollywood writers rally in Burbank, California, Friday to call attention to their demands.

The writers’ negotiators said they remain ready to continue talks “no matter how intransigent our bargaining partners are.”

Statements from each side suggested they were far from a settlement to the five-week-long walkout. Both sides became more entrenched in their differences over what share of residuals writers would get for Internet and DVD distribution of shows and as new demands emerged.

Production on dozens of TV series and movies halted last month. More are expected to shut down in December unless a new three-year contract between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is negotiated.

The level of personal dislike among those around the bargaining table boiled to the surface in statements issued after the talks imploded Friday evening.

What this means, clearly, is that regardless of whichever “side” one falls on, the current “negotiators” have failed utterly. Or rather, their personal enmity would seem to make a reasonable, timely agreement impossible. Therefore, let BTL join the call that entirely new “bargainers” be found, for each side. It is time, ladies and gentlemen, for a “reboot.”

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