Writers Guild of America agrees to resume talks, withdraws proposals seeking jurisdiction over animation and reality television shows

From: Bloomberg.com
Striking Writers Agree to Resume Talks With Studios (Update1)

By Michael White

Striking film and television writers agreed to discuss ground rules for new negotiations with Hollywood studios, a step that could lead to resolution of the 11-week-old strike.

The Writers Guild of America withdrew proposals seeking jurisdiction over animation and reality television shows, the union said today in an e-mailed statement.

The discussions will be the first since Dec. 7, when negotiations broke down over pay for the use of work on the Internet, as well as writers' demands regarding reality and animation shows. The studios agreed last week to pay directors more for Web distribution of content, helping to clear the way for renewed talks with the writers. That agreement, reached in one week, followed three weeks of preliminary discussions.

The Writers Guild has made new media the focal point of the strike, arguing that the Internet and mobile devices will become an increasingly important method for distributing content. They walked off the job on Nov. 5.

The studios also must negotiate separate labor agreements with the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which represents singers, dancers, announcers and some news personnel who work in TV and radio.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at Mwhite8@bloomberg.net

Heres the letter to the membership from the WGAE site:
WGA Joint Presidents' Letter on Start of Informal Talks

WGAE
January 23, 2008

To Our Fellow Members,

We have responded favorably to the invitation from the AMPTP to enter into informal talks that will help establish a reasonable basis for returning to negotiations. During this period we have agreed to a complete news blackout. We are grateful for this opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion with industry leaders that we hope will lead to a contract. We ask that all members exercise restraint in their public statements during this critical period.

In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations we have decided to withdraw our proposals on reality and animation. Our organizing efforts to achieve Guild representation in these genres for writers will continue. You will hear more about this in the next two weeks.

On another issue, the Writers Guild, West Board of Directors has voted not to picket the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) face many of the same issues concerning compensation in new media that we do. In the interest of advancing our goal of achieving a fair contract, the WGAW Board felt that this gesture should be made on behalf our brothers and sisters in AFM and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).

Best,

Michael Winship
President
Writers Guild of America, East

Patric M. Verrone
President
Writers Guild of America, West

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