Thursday, January 17, 2008

DGA makes a deal

Alright, the DGA is done. Now let's see this deal's terms, see if they can help bridge the gap between the AMPTP and the WGA (and SAG), and get back to the negotiating table.

I'm hesitant to get too optimistic are near-future progress. Remember, part of the strategy of union breaking in the time of a strike is causing a rollercoaster of emotions... hope, despair, hope, despair, etc.

Some terms of the deal can be found via this DGA fact sheet.

My thoughts...

- New Media jurisdiction... a given necessity. So yay. The exceptions seem acceptable, but then again I have no idea what things like the Lost: Missing Pieces clips cost to produce so... I can't weigh in legitimately on that stuff.
- Electronic Sell-Through... I think the WGA is going to want more than what the DGA got on this, as it's only slightly above the DVD rate (and the increased rates only kick in after a certain number of downloads). I think the WGA will still ask for more because this isn't as important to the DGA as it is to the WGA, as many members in the DGA are ADs and do not receive residuals. I've no clue how many copies of even the most popular series are downloaded, as that information has never been released (for instance... even though Gossip Girl episodes are constantly the top downloads on iTunes TV Store... how many copies are being sold?)
- HOWEVER... payments for EST are based on distributor's gross. That is essential (and the AMPTP told the WGA it needed off the table before negotiations could resume was also accepted). It seems as though the "Fair Market Value" provision that the AMPTP wanted to do away with is in the deal as well, as the DGA will have access, through this deal, to financial data.
- Ad-Supported Streaming... that should be acceptable to the WGA. The WGA wanted, I believe, a three-day free streaming window before residuals kicked in, while the AMPTP wanted a six-week window. Seventeen days is pretty much in the middle (and the 3% rate is actually more than the 2.5% WGA was asking for... though the DGA seems to have agreed to a flat rate based on time the program is available to stream, while the WGA had proposed a tier-by-viewing-levels system). The extra week for new programs actually does make sense under "promotional use" thinking.

I'm sure there's plenty of fine print in the actual contract document that isn't summarized, so all of this is "on first, surface blush" reaction.

The DGA deal of course doesn't have anything about reality or animated directing... the DGA already has reality directors in its union (i'm 99% sure). Not sure about animation. Those two jurisdictional questions, the WGA has said, are not blockers to a deal in case they need to be taken off the table (and under proper organization, those writers can become part of the WGA through other ways).

Crap, I'm optimistic.


And with the AMPTP statement including "we invite the Writers Guild of America..." rhetoric, sigh, I wonder if the PR war of words is really over.

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