The Guild Responds to the Companies’ Proposals

The Guild Responds to the Companies' Proposals

During MBA negotiations on September 19, 2007, the Guild gave its response to the Companies' so-called Comprehensive Package Proposal. The Companies' proposals are comprised of 32 single-spaced pages containing rollbacks of every fundamental protection writers have won in the last 50 years.

Not surprisingly we rejected virtually all of these proposals.

We hope that the Companies will drop the posturing and begin serious negotiations so that a fair deal can be reached.

What follows is a summary of the “highlights” of the Companies' proposals and the Guild's response.

  • Profit-based residuals. The centerpiece of the Companies' proposals is the regressive proposal that no residuals will be paid on theatrical or television projects until the project has reached profitability. In short, the proposal would scrap the residuals system that has been in effect for 50 years and make all writers net profit participants.

Guild response:

The Companies' proposal would result in the elimination of residuals. The Guild will not accept any rollbacks of the existing residuals formulas.

  • Residuals for "new media" distribution. The Companies want new media distribution – such as ad-supported streaming or cell phone mobisodes – to be completely free. The Companies would pay no residuals at all.

Guild response:

The fair share of new media revenue that writers deserve should not depend on whether their work is sold, rented or streamed. That is why the Guild has made a simple proposal: writers should receive 2.5% of revenues from ALL new media distribution.

  • No coverage of writing for new media. The Companies' proposal denies the Guild jurisdiction over writing for new media: the Internet, cell phones and other digital technologies.

Guild response:

The Guild demands jurisdiction over writing for new media. Increasingly, there is no distinction between programs developed for television or the Internet. Without Guild representation, writers will be coerced into doing Internet writing for little or no compensation, without any of the protections of the MBA.

  • Unlimited crediting. The Companies want the right to credit any amounts due to a writer under the MBA against any other payments, including overscale compensation and profit participation.

Guild response:

This proposal would have the effect of eliminating residuals on a project for which the writer receives overscale compensation. The Guild will not agree to such a proposal.

  • Gutting of separated rights. The Companies' proposal would decimate both television and theatrical separated rights. It would also eliminate a writer's ability to exploit television rights if the Company fails to do so. On the theatrical side, the proposal makes it far more difficult and expensive for a writer to reacquire an original screenplay.

Guild response:

Separated rights in original material have been an essential feature of the MBA for 50 years. The membership of this union will never give up these hard-won rights. We reject the proposal in its entirety.

  • No credits in advertising. The proposal entirely eliminates the requirement that writing credits appear in advertising and publicity, even if the names of others – such as producers and directors – are included.

Guild response:

For years the MBA has provided that the writer receive parity in advertising and publicity. The Guild will never accept this proposal, which is an insult to writers and demeans their contributions.

The Companies' proposals contain many other unacceptable rollbacks that result in fewer rights and less money for writers. The Guild rejects each and every one of these rollbacks.



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