WGA firm on Net residuals


The WGA is thumbing its nose at some pre-negotiation proposals floated by studios in its first "Contract 2007 Bulletin," which the guild planned to mail to members today.

"The Internet is a new distribution channel, and we believe the existing provisions of the (minimum basic agreement) require residual compensation for our work when it is re-used over the Internet," wrote John Bowman, chair of the guild's negotiation committee. "Management, however, has refused to accept this interpretation and has even threatened to do away with residuals altogether in this new medium or to impose the outdated and unfair home video formula."

The WGA sent an early copy of the bulletin to The Hollywood Reporter late Thursday.

Studio execs repeatedly have said that their Web-entertainment projects are still in the experimental stage and that it's too early to talk about expanding writer compensation.

On Wednesday, execs conducting a pre-negotiations news briefing suggested a study should be commissioned on the issue and the matter left out of film and TV contract negotiations with the WGA, which begin Monday.

Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producer president Nick Counter, who will lead the negotiations with the WGA and joined the execs for the news briefing, said management also wants to revise current residual models to delay their implementation on film and TV compensation until projects recoup production, marketing and distribution costs.

Studios are investing too much in projects and seeing profit too late these days to continue paying talent under outmoded residual schemes, Counter and the others argued.

But WGA West executive director and chief negotiator David Young, who also authored a message in the guild bulletin, said entertainment conglomerates are more prosperous than most companies.

"(C)ompanies that dominate the entertainment industry are doing extremely well, much better than the average of companies in other industries," Young said.

He added that guild resolve is strong going into the contract talks.