Negotiations That Could Kill TV Heating Up

by Paul William Tenny

I realize there isn't very wide appeal for news and information on the talks taking place between the major studios and the Writers Guild of America, but you should read this anyway because it's extremely important. If a deal isn't had this time around that satisfies the Guild's demands, there will be a strike.

I feel the personal need to make these issues clear, because the deal between the Guild and the AMPTP hasn't been fair since the 1980s, and if the studios get their way, it'll stay that way for a long time to come. Stick with me while I try to explain this as fast as humanly possible. Writers get paid for the scripts they write, and in exchange for giving up the copyright over their work, they are guaranteed "residual" checks for each time the movie or TV show they wrote is "performed", or shown in a business context. Every time you see Men in Black on TNT, the writer gets a check for that.

Back when home video technology was coming around, the Guild - in good faith - took a very crappy deal for the formula that decides how much of a percentage they get paid in residuals for rentals and VHS sales. Both sides claim they had no idea the home video market would take off such as it did, and while I certainly believe that is true for the Guild, I openly question whether or not the studios had more forethought than they'll admit.

The short of it is the formula that was negotiated was so pathetically unbalanced, that for a $20 DVD, writers get about five cents. While mistake number one was letting home video slip by like this, mistake number two was allowing it to be applied to DVD's unchallenged.

Mistake number three is to allow it to be allied to web downloads and streaming video unchallenged, and that is what will be the cause of the coming strike.

Allowing this to happen all over again could represent another 20 years of getting a nickel for every DVD sold instead of a fair equitable share. And it's not like the Guild is demanding a new 50/50 split, they simply want to be paid fairly for the work they contribute, and that hasn't been the case for nearly two decades, going on three.

Anyone who watches streaming video or television or films in the theater need to be ready for the likelihood that a strike will occur this year, and if they feel concerned, they should pressure the studios to come back to the table, and drop their disgustingly greedy attitude.


Related posts:

View more stories by visiting the archives.

Media Pundit categories