AMPTP drops recoupment issue


ORLANDO -- In a dramatic reshaping of the WGA contract talks, negotiators for the studios and networks said Tuesday that they have withdrawn the management proposal that labor reps have most objected to: cost recoupment.

Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers president Nick Counter said he no longer would seek a revising of current compensation residuals. Such a revision had been proposed by the studios, which said they wanted to recoup certain basic costs before paying any residuals on film and TV projects.

"In the overriding interest of keeping the industry working and removing what has become an emotional impediment and excuse by the WGA not to bargain, the AMPTP withdrew its recoupment proposal," Counter said.

"By taking the recoupment formula off the table, we haven't solved the problems that the formula was designed to ameliorate," he said. "But as we have said repeatedly, we are committed to making a deal that is fair and reasonable."

The AMPTP made its announcement midday. The WGA and AMPTP were expected to continue negotiations until later in the day, and there was no immediate public response from the WGA to management's announcement.

Counter said the AMPTP's resistance to WGA demands on various sorts of pay boosts remains firm.

"Upon removing the recoupment issue, we made it patently clear that the producers will not agree to increase residual payments for videocassette/DVD use (including electronic sell-through), for reruns on the CW or MyNetworkTV or for programs made for pay television or basic cable," the AMPTP president said. "We now expect the WGA leadership to get down to the business at hand and do what it takes to reach a new labor agreement."

The WGA's current main film and TV contract with the AMPTP expires Oct. 31.