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ATA improves offer to WGA

The US Association of Talent Agencies (ATA) has made an improved offer to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) as the two organisations look to settle their ongoing dispute.

The WGA and ATA reopened talks last week, with the latter reportedly offering a five-year deal over the weekend that includes a proposal that would see WGA members receive around 2% of revenue from packaging – the process of bundling talent and bringing projects together for TV shows – double that of the 1% initially offered.

Some of that money would be for less senior writers, who have to date been largely unable to profit from successful shows. The proposal also suggests greater transparency between agencies and their production divisions, according to US reports, with writers able to choose whether their show is packaged.

Projects will be made available on the market to achieve a fair price should it then be produced through an agency-affiliated producer, while the ATA has also said it will create a US$6m fund to support job creation and talent.

The proposals come 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.

The dispute has become increasingly acrimonious, but some progress appears to have been made over the weekend with the WGA confirming in a letter to members that it had asked for further details of the ATA offer.

“Although there was cause for concern, including a revenue-sharing proposal that instead of 1% is now 2%, the presentation was wide-ranging and complex,” the WGA said. “We have asked for contract language on their proposals in order to formulate the appropriate response.”

However, the WGA added that “whatever solution we find, it will have to address conflicts of interest and realign agency incentives with those of their writer clients.”

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.

However, a small number of agencies have agreed to sign up, including US-based Verve Talent and Literary Agency.

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