It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

As word spreads over the interwebs that the DGA has cut a deal with the studios, I’ve already had several people ask me if this is going to end the Writer’s strike.

Frankly, I doubt it, and I base that doubt on the following key analytical paragraph from this New York Times story about the deal:

Over all, the agreement was designed to reflect the directors’ belief, bolstered by an independent study of industry economics, that digital media will render the companies a negligible amount of revenue during the life of the contract, and will become significant only after 2010.

Here’s where the fundamental strategies of the DGA and WGA differ: The DGA is fighting like it’s negotiating for the next three years, and only the next three years. The WGA is fighting like it’s negotiating for a rate for the forseeable future.

Frankly, given how bad the unions have gotten screwed on the “oh, we’ll raise the rate once we start making some money” concept before, I think the writers are right and the directors are being ludicrously short-sighted.

Now supposedly, the directors have had a clause written into the contract that the numbers they’re agreeing to now aren’t setting a precedent for the next negotiation in 2010-11, but…they’re still setting a precedent.

Remember, writers have gotten the same 4 cent per VHS/DVD residual (and actors and directors have had similar numbers that have never been adjusted) since the early 80’s, with no adjustments for either inflation or the dramatically declining cost of production, despite assurances from the studios when the deal was first struck that it would not be precedent-setting.

The DGA is putting an awful lot of trust in the studios to stand by their word and not fuck around during the next negotiation, and I don’t know that the studios have done a damn thing to earn it.

Obviously, we’ll have to see how the numbers play out and how the inevitable battle between the DGA and WGA in the press goes over the next few days, but I fear this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

I hope to god I’m wrong.

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