US TV writers go on strike
It is understood that talks between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke down at 21:30 Pacific time on Sunday evening - by which time writers belonging to the east coast division of the WGA had already gone on strike. The WGA, West strike began officially at 00:01 Pacific time this morning.
The WGA said that in the last-ditch talks it had withdrawn a proposal that would have doubled royalty payments related to DVD sales - a proposal that had been cited as a red line by the AMPTP. It claimed that despite its move, the AMPTP refused to budge on WGA jurisdiction over new media exploitation of writers' work.
In a statement, the WGA said: "The AMPTP made no response to any of the other proposals that the WGA has made since July. The AMPTP proposed that today's meeting be 'off the record', meaning no press statements, but they have reneged on that."
AMPTP president Nick Counter said: "Notwithstanding the fact that negotiations were ongoing, the WGA decided to start their strike in New York. When we asked if they would “stop the clock” for the purpose of delaying the strike to allow negotiations to continue, they refused.
"We made an attempt at meeting them in a number of their key areas including Internet streaming and jurisdiction in New Media. Ultimately, the guild was unwilling to compromise on most of their major demands.
"It is unfortunate that they choose to take this irresponsible action."
No talks between the parties are scheduled, and pickets will be set up as of 9am local time outside network and studio buildings including CBS Television City and the Warner Bros. lot.
The only programmes to be immediately impacted will be topical, live shows where writers would have been expected to turn scripts around in short order. Comedy Central's flagship Daily Show and Colbert Report will likely go into reruns, as will the network late-night talk shows.
The networks had been stockpiling scripts for primetime shows since earlier in the year when it became clear that the WGA and AMPTP would be unlikely to reach an agreement and it is understood that most shows will be able to continue production in the near future. However, shows in the planning stages - such as the now-suspended Heroes spinoff - have been affected as networks seek to redistribute funds to keep existing programmes on the air.