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WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA STRIKE

22 Sep 2017Arts Essays

The Writers Guild of America Strike started on November5, 2007 and ended on February 12, 2008. The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) conducted it. The strike against the trade organization, which represents of 397 American Film and Television producers i.e. Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The main producers are CBS Corporation, Metro-Goldwin-Mayer, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Walt Disney Company and Warner Brothers. The strike accounts for 100 days. It is effected the economy of Los Angeles with the $1.5 billion. T.V. and film production completely stopped due to the writers’ strike.

There will be new contract for every three years between writers guild and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). This contract will be called as Minimum Basic Agreement i.e. MBA. But in 2007, the negotiations failed and hence Writers Guild Association members voted to call a strike. The strike started on November 5 2007. Besides other issues, there are issues such as DVD residuals, union jurisdiction over animation, compensation for new media such as content writing, digital technology, Internet etc. The Writers Guild of America, West and East division represents more than 12,000 movie and television writers. The strike was started on November 5, 2007 and continued for three months with the loss of $500 million. The strike started with the walk off by the WGA members since the failure of the talks over the issue on how the writers are paid for the of the their material on the Internet, DVD and among other issues. The WGA proposed that writers should receive 2.5% of distributor’s gross on new media sales and distribution. But the companies refused to address this proposal, but they proposed interest sales instead DVD. The WGA rejected this proposal and told them clearly to shut down their studios. Writers demand is bigger revenue on online works and video whereas the studios not accepted. The major shareholders are in the media side Disney, Sony, Viacom, News Corp, Time Warner and General Electric. It is clear that the Internet will be for future of entertainment and writers stressed on this area to increase the revenue. So far writers are getting small residual on download sales.

But the AMPTP does not want to set residuals until the studios establish viable business for Internet content. At present the writers are getting 0.3%, which is old rate of 22 years age, and hence they are asking 2.5% i.e. remarkable increase of 700%. The AMPTP proposed that no residuals until six weeks till the episode went online. It is nothing people habituate to watch the episode, which is connected with earnings. The writers demand is a share of advertisement revenue generated by online broadcasts of TV shows. But the producers say that Web is only promotional tool and it will not give much money, which is baseless argument. Writers strongly focused on new media residuals such as Internet download, IPTV, steaming, smart phone programming, straight-to-internet content and other online distributions methods inclusive of cable and satellite television

Due to strike, several major studios shut down and many deals affected and some terminated. The negotiations between the WGA and AMPTP expired on October 31, 2007. the stroke announced officially which would start on November 5, 2007. On November 5, 2007, the WGAW members, SAG members and Teamsters members picked and refused to cross the picket lines at targeted studios in Los Angeles. On November 16, 2007, the AMPTP submitted a new proposal to the WGA which is worth of additional $130 million compensation. The WGA responded positively it did not understand how the $130 million figure had been calculated. Hence talks again broke off on December 7. However in the middle of December, the WGA announced planed to try to negotiate with individual production companies in order to end the strike. The writers Guild of America initiated to make voting to end the strike. Finally on February 12, 2008, the WGA president announced that 92.5% of membership voted to end the strike. Since the production ceases for television programming and thousand of staff support under strike, the AMPTP estimated that the WGA writers would lose of $342.8 million with respect to their wages.

Writers will get 2% of distributors gross receipts for ad-supported streams of television programs from the beginning of the third year. With respect of contend downloads, writers will get 36 percent of a distributor’s gross receipts for the first 50,000 downloads of a feature film and the first 100,000 downloads of a TV show. After cross of the levels, then only writers would get 65 percent and 7% respectively. These are specified under the agreement reached with producers by the writers. Under the tentative agreement, the writers would get a maximum flat fee of $1,200 per program in the first two years and two percent of a distributors’ gross revenue in the third year.

These solutions seem to be fixed with certain conditions. There should not be any conditions with respect to the compensation. Hence the initial level amount to be distributed without waiting of 2 years. Similarly with respect to downloading, it should start from ‘0’ level i.e. there should not be such restriction like first 100,000 downloads of a TV show etc.
The following reasons would be considered for the writers winning and to end the strike, which is old of 100 days.

The argument made by AMPTP seems to be baseless with respect to downloading. The studios intimated to the consumers stating that the illegal movie and TV downloads that hamper to the cost of writers etc. with this the public become aware of the fact that illegal downloading or legal downloading and how much studios earning. Because illegal downloads amounts only small revenue and with poor quality, hence most of the public depends upon the legal downloading only.Due to great series and films, the writers will be getting royalties on DVD box sets and Internet downloads for years together, hence the writers appreciated.

It is 100-day strike. In order to end the strike, the WGA finalized the tentative deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Simultaneously, the WGA board recommended for ratification of deal by voting to ending the strike. At last the strike was ended with the voting of 3800 members of writers guild of America consisting of East and West coast unions. The polling was held at New York City and Los Angeles with more than 92 percent to end the strike. It is success of not only for writers but also to the creative community. The end of strike means nothing but Hollywood’s annual celebration. Since the Academy Awards scheduled for February 24, it is really good news. The strike effected towards stopping of production of television shows and movies. The city of Los Angeles costs the loss of around $380 million. The writers predicted that the strike would cause $2.5 billion in economic losses if the strike continues to the five-month which was significant to 1988 strike. The producers alliance estimated the cost loss would be around $285 million. Finally the WGA strike cost around $2.5 billion and it is high when compared to previous strikes. The Associated press reports that the said figure inclusive of wages lost by writers and other entertainment industry workers. The previous strike, which was occurred in 1988, continued for 153 days and resulted $500 million in respect of wages lost by writers.

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