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Feb-12-2008 12:58printcomments

Resolution Expected in Writer's Guild Strike Today

The 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike has affected a large number of television shows that were due to be broadcast in the United States during the current television season.

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(SALEM, Ore.) - The main negotiators in the Writers Guild strike are expected to sign papers today that will put an end to months of labor disputes and negotiations.

Millions have been impacted through the temporary crippling of American television, and the dispute is having a major impact on the economy in Hollywood, affecting far more than just the film and television industry.

The 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike has affected a large number of television shows that were due to be broadcast in the United States during the current television season.

A tentative agreement was reached with negotiators for the striking writers on February 8th 2008. The boards of both guilds unanimously approved the deal on February 10th.

The three-year contract includes residual payments for digital broadcasts, a key point of contention. Under the new deal writers will earn 2% of the gross receipts that retailers earn from advertising that supports content distributed via the Internet.

That provision takes effect during the third year of the contract. Streaming video will be exempt for 24 days after a show's original release to allow some leeway for digital video recording.

Today the striking writers are voting whether to end the strike immediately. They will vote again later in February on whether to accept the new agreement itself.

The deal was brokered by John Bowman, the head of the guild's negotiating committee, and a former "Saturday Night Live" writer.

He struck the initial agreements during living room meetings in the Santa Monica home of Peter Chernin, where he spent hours with the News Corp. president as well as Warner Brothers Chairman Barry Meyer and CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves.

The LA Times says that a month ago, the two sides were barely speaking. Ample amounts of animosity had been thrown back and forth, and the Director's Guild was starting to look in other directions.

The Writers Guild had brought in former construction labor and garment industry negotiator, David Young, who immediately went at it with the studios' negotiator, Nick Counter, ending the chances of any positive exchanges that may have led to early resolution. The Times says that even before talks first began on a new contract in July, there was animosity bordering on loathing between the negotiators. They apparently had an argument over how many chairs should be in the room.

Most knew something had to be done and it had to happen fast. It was Bowman who took the matter into his own hands and he is largely credited with saving the day for many.

That two-hour meeting in Santa Monica saw real labor negotiations drop into gear, and led to the tentative three-year contract that many predict will end today. The strike has lasted three months and affects 10,500 members of the guild covered by the contract.

The Writers Guild had other significant labor disputes in 1960 and 1988.

Sources report that public response has largely been supportive of the strike. According to a poll in November 2007, 63% of Americans supported the writers.


Special thanks to Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers, for information in this article, and also special thanks to the New York Times and the Writers Guild.

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