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Script competition

ATA claims WGA ‘not interested in deal’

The US Association of Talent Agencies (ATA) has said the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is “not interested in making a deal,” in the latest salvo in the ongoing dispute between the two bodies.

In the latest attempt to resolve the disagreement around packaging – the process of bundling talent and bringing projects together for TV shows – the ATA offered an amended five-year deal earlier this month that included a proposal that would see WGA members receive around 2% of revenue from packaging, doubling its initial offer of 1%.

However, the agents’ organisation has become frustrated by the WGA’s slow response and said it had “become clear as more days pass that the guild is not interested in making a deal.”

Following the ATA’s most recent statement, the WGA confirmed it was planning to respond the proposals “this week.”

The ATA’s offer would see more money paid to less senior writers, who have to date been largely unable to profit from successful shows, as well as offering choices over whether a show is packaged and more transparency on who picks up projects.

In yesterday’s statement, the ATA reiterated that its proposals would give WGA members more control over their projects and better remuneration.

“While they [the WGA] described the agencies’ new proposals as ‘wide-ranging and complex,’ they were actually quite simple: we more than doubled the amount of revenue to be shared by writers who are not already profit participants; reiterated our commitment to appropriate data sharing; offered new forms of arbitration to settle issues; and offered further dialogue around affiliate companies, including direct conversations with the leaders of those entities.”

The offer came almost two months since discussions first broke down between the ATA and the WGA over the latter’s introduction of a new code of conduct, which sought to do away with agency packaging deals and agency-affiliated production companies.

More than 7,000 of the WGA’s members, including high-profile writers such as Shonda Rhimes, David Simon and Damon Lindelof, fired their agents earlier this year after members of the ATA, including CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners, refused to sign up the WGA’s revised code.

“It’s been 10 weeks since the leadership forced writers to fire their agents, and now 11 days since the agencies have heard from… the WGA leadership or their negotiating committee. It has become clear as more days pass that the guild is not interested in making a deal.

“Over the past year, members of the Association of Talent Agents – agencies large and small – have done everything possible to engage the WGA leadership in dialogue and negotiation, only to be met at nearly every turn with demands for capitulation rather than negotiation.

“Moving forward, we will pursue a course that defends and protects our employees and maintains writers’ ability to choose the agents, agencies and business models that are best for them.”

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