Call it spin, posturing or whatever, but the NYT's Michael Cieply reports that entertainment executives were "privately expressing shock" that the Writers Guild leadership angrily dismissed the first phase of their re-jiggered proposal, something called "New Economic Partnership." (Note to execs: Never trumpet a negotiating position as a "partnership." It sounds phony, even if you're on the level, which you're probably not. Also, this business about writers and producers being "partners" is usually a crock and everybody knows it.) Anyway, the guild rejected the partnership plan Thursday night, calling it a PR ploy, to which the media executives got on the horn to reporters on Friday to present their side.
They described their cause as a necessary struggle against union-imposed pay structures and restrictions that, if accepted, would keep their companies from operating effectively in a rowdy Internet world that has already badly damaged the music and news industries. “I won’t participate in writing the death sentence for this industry,” said one senior executive, who declined to be identified to avoid making his company a target of writers. This executive and others said the new proposal — with details that were not fully disclosed by either side — had been intended to spur vigorous bargaining by crossing conceptual lines that studios had earlier declared off-limits. It offered a fixed residual for Web-streamed programs that had none under prior proposals, opened the door to payments for digital broadcasts, and offered the guild jurisdiction over new-media productions that are based on work initially done for conventional television, according to a fact-sheet distributed by the producers alliance on Friday.
So it looks like both sides are back to media campaigning, which isn't the greatest idea if they actually want to settle this thing. But that’s just it: I'm not sure either the writers or media companies are really ready to cut a deal right now. Remember, this is only Dec. 1; things have to get good and painful before both sides can go back to their constituencies and say, "folks this is the best we can do." Sounding like the voice of reason in the Times piece was none other than WGA Executive Director David Young, saying that guild leaders were pleased that the media companies were at least offering an economic package that will mean more money for writers. Bargaining resumes Tuesday.