US Movie Directors' Deal Refocuses Writers' Dispute

21 January 2008

HOLLYWOOD: US entertainment executives are hoping a tentative pay agreement reached between directors and studios will establish new principles in a changing media landscape and put pressure on striking screenwriters to return to the negotiating table.

The ongoing dispute between writers and their employers has paralyzed movie and television production in LaLa land since November, and reduced the usually star-studded Golden Globe Awards ceremony to a mere press conference. It also threatens to dim next month's Oscars extravaganza.

The key to the three-year deal between the Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is a new formula under which directors would be paid for TV episodes and movies streamed online.

It also increases both wages and residuals (payments for repeats) for each year of the contract and gives the DGA jurisdiction over TV shows and movies created specifically for the internet.

In addition, it doubles royalties from iTunes downloads while establishing rates for streamed TV episodes and movies that are supported by embedded advertising.

Comments DGA president Michael Apted: "The internet is not free. We must receive fair compensation for the use and reuse of our work on the internet, whether it was originally created for other media platforms or expressly for online distribution."

The Writers Guild of America, whose negotiations broke down over similar issues to those hammered out by the DGA, will be looking closely at the deal, but has so far remained zip-lipped as to its intentions.

To date, believes the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, the WGA dispute has cost more than £1.4bn (€957m; £715m)

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff