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Back in the Saddle?

Well, the AMPTP and WGA were back at the table yesterday, and-- to Hollywood's surprise-- they actually got along. No one expected them to be cordial, especially after the Writers Guild blasted the studios for last Thursday's lame attempt at a proposal. According to the Guild, the AMPTP's suggestion that they'll give writers a $130 million pay raise over the next three years is bogus... the actual math adds up to only $32 million. And like kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar, the AMPTP had no defense, refusing to show the writers the math used to arrive at that $130 million.

So the WGA decided to show the AMPTP how it was done... arriving with their own proposal, which suggests a tiered re-use plan for streaming movies and TV shows online, as well as a detailed analysis of both proposals. Although studio chiefs didn't dismiss the proposal, CBS CEO Les Moonves said he's not "terribly optimistic" that the strike's end is around the corner.

Meanwhile, John Bowman, the head negotiator for the WGA, emailed the following message to writers late yesterday:

"Rumors, half-truths, and misinformation about what is actually happening at the bargaining table fly across the internet, are posted on blogs, passed across picket lines like a game of telephone, and appear in stories and advertisements in the trade papers.

So, to clarify exactly where we are, we have prepared a report and analysis... here’s a brief summary:

The latest WGA proposal would cost the companies $151 million over three years. It is reasonable, serious, and easily affordable. For instance, it would cost Sony only $1.68 million per year. Paramount and CBS would each pay only $4.66 million per year. MGM would pay only $320,000 per year.

The AMPTP claims its proposal would give us $130 million over three years. Our analysis – and again, please visit the website to see for yourself – tells us their offer is worth only $32 million. But if you factor in the companies’ regressive proposal on “promotional use” (streaming TV shows and feature films in their entirety for free) writers could potentially lose $100 million in income over the course of this contract.

So while we don’t see how their proposal adds up to anywhere near $130 million, we greet their public willingness to make such an offer with real interest. If the AMPTP is serious about this figure, the WGA is confident we are closer to a deal than anyone has suggested, and we are hopeful that the companies will respond positively to our proposal, which is a serious, reasonable, and affordable attempt to bridge the gap between us."

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