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DGA Cuts a New Deal; Will the WGA Follow?

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In a preemptive move, the Director's Guild of America (DGA) announced yesterday that they'd made a satisfactory deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), giving them a new contract and therefore eliminating the need to strike once the current contract ended. So what does this mean for striking writers and the likelihood of an impending end to their current three-month-old strike?

DGA President Michael Apted explains in an LA Times Opinion piece today that the WGA strike in part influenced the DGA to wait some time before beginning their talks with the AMPTP: "Out of respect for the writers, we delayed our negotiations long past their traditional starting point. We were stirred by their concerns and their passion, but with so much at stake -- and the WGA and the AMPTP at an impasse -- we felt we had to act." Both the DGA and the WGA share concerns about compensation for work done in what's called the "new media" i.e. materials produced for and/or distributed online. Business Week's Ron Grover explains what the DGA got and how that compares with what the WGA is seeking:

For TV shows that are downloaded via the Internet, the studios will pay directors 0.7% of their gross revenues, roughly double what they're paying now, but nowhere near the 2.5% the writers want. For movies, the directors will get 0.65%. But a movie would have to sell more than 50,000 copies before that rate kicks up from the current 0.3% that unions get. For TV shows, the 0.7% residual will kick in after 100,000 copies are sold. Currently, no residuals are paid for TV shows and movies that are streamed once over the Internet. The directors won agreement to get 3% of sales after the show is streamed for 17 days. After a year, that rate would drop to 2%.

Apted sees the new contract as one that "sets a critical precedent for the industry" and "sets some very powerful precedents that provide the protection and compensation [they] deserve while preserving the flexibility [they] need." Apted continues, however, asking the question that many in the industry, in this city, and who are missing at the very least scripted television programming nationwide: "Will this be enough to get everyone back to work? I can only hope so."
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