Writers' Strike Ending?

Will the Writers Guild of America strike end soon? Possibly:

Informal talks between representatives of Hollywood’s striking writers and production companies have eliminated the major roadblocks to a new contract, which could lead to a tentative agreement as early as next week, according to people who were briefed on the situation but requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak.

A deal would end a crippling writers strike that is now entering its fourth month.

The agreement may come without renewed formal negotiations between the television and movie writers and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, though both sides still need to agree on specific language of key provisions.

If that process goes smoothly, an agreement may be presented to the governing boards of the striking Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild of America East by the end of next week, the people said.

The breakthrough occurred Friday after two weeks of closed-door discussions between the sides. Even if approved by leaders of the guilds, a deal would require ratification by a majority of the more than 10,000 active guild members.

Writers walked out on Nov. 5 after failing to reach a new contract with producers in months of difficult bargaining. Talks resumed briefly in December, but quickly broke off again. The latest round of talks came more than two weeks ago in the wake of a tentative contract agreement between producers and the Directors Guild of America.

That deal confronted many of the same issues that have troubled writers — including difficult questions related to pay for digital distribution of shows and movies — and paved the way for Friday’s movement toward a deal.

A final sticking point had been compensation for ad-supported television programs that are streamed over the Internet after their initial broadcast. Companies were seeking a period during which they could stream such shows without paying a residual, and wanted to peg payments for a year of streaming at the $1,200 level established in the directors’ contract. Writers were seeking 1.2 percent of the distributors’ revenue from such streams, to ensure they would participate in any revenue gold mine discovered on the Web. How that issue was finally resolved in the informal talks remained unclear.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013