Producers Reach Agreement With Directors Guild, Invite Writers Back to Negotiating Table

Maybe soon we can finally get some new episodes of The Office.

by | January 18, 2008 | Comments

Well, that didn’t take long: After five quiet days of negotiations, the Directors Guild of America has announced a tentative three-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Gil Cates, chair of the DGA’s Negotiations Committee, described the agreement as “groundbreaking and substantial,” telling Variety, “The gains in this contract for directors and their teams are extraordinary — and there are no rollbacks of any kind.”

Some of the gains Cates referred to are of the new-media residuals variety, a development which should warm cockles in the hearts of striking Writers Guild members everywhere. From the article:

DGA touted a trio of new-media gains:

Establishing DGA jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet;

Boosting the residuals formula for paid Internet downloads (electronic sell-through) by double the current rate;

And establishing residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet.

Despite these changes, there’s concern from within the WGA that leadership will reject the DGA deal “out of hand” as a template for its own agreement. Perhaps realizing this, the AMPTP released a statement inviting the WGA back to the bargaining table:

The agreement between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Directors Guild of America establishes an important precedent: Our industry’s creative talent will now participate financially in every emerging area of new media. The agreement demonstrates beyond any doubt that our industry’s producers are willing and able to work with the creators of entertainment content to establish fair and flexible rules for this fast-changing marketplace.

We hope that this agreement with DGA will signal the beginning of the end of this extremely difficult period for our industry. Today, we invite the Writers Guild of America to engage with us in a series of informal discussions similar to the productive process that led us to a deal with the DGA to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for returning to formal bargaining. We look forward to these discussions, and to the day when our entire industry gets back to work.

Aside from scoring what might be the first public relations point in the AMPTP’s favor during the strike, the announcement drops the ball squarely back on the WGA’s side of the court. The Guild was quick to respond, releasing a statement that, despite being slightly churlish (“For over a month, we have been urging the conglomerates to return to the table and bargain in good faith. They have chosen to negotiate with the DGA instead”), indicated a willingness to at least analyze and evaluate the DGA deal. Expect negotiations to start up again soon — and who knows? Maybe this time, they’ll have a happy ending for everyone.

Source: Variety