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May 7, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Writers reach tentative accord with producers

Los Angeles-Ending four days of marathon talks late Friday, negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached a tentative three-year contract.

Michael Mahern, co-chairman of the WGA’s negotiating committee, said the new contract would yield $41 million more in residual and minimum scale payments during the next three years.

The agreement, however, comes somewhat short of the $100 million-plus the writers union was seeking on residual payments and a restructuring of minimum scale payments, which were estimated to increase about 3.5 percent from the contract that expired May 1. Screenwriters were also expected to see slight increases in DVD and other home-video residuals.

One other key area of movement was an increase in the residual scale paid by the Fox Television Network. Fox is now paying 66 percent of what ABC, CBS and NBC pay and will move up over a gradual scale up to 100 percent after two years. Other details were sketchy, since the WGA and AMPTP had yet to release an official statement at deadline.

P&G in pre-upfront deal

Cincinnati-Procter & Gamble Co. is in talks about a $300 million pre-upfront deal with Viacom Plus, Advertising Age reports. The deal would most likely include CBS, MTV, TNN, VH1 and BET as well as Viacom’s syndication properties, the report says. (Such a deal is alluded to in EM’s interview with Mel Karmazin, Viacom’s president and COO, Page 1.) P&G has also been in talks with ABC about a multiproperty deal (EM, April 30).

FCC backs News Corp.

Washington-The Federal Communications Commission staff was recommending at deadline that News Corp. be permitted to combine its media properties in the New York market-the New York Post and WNYW-TV-with Chris-Craft’s WWOR-TV, at least pending resolution of agency proceedings considering relaxing a rule that bars broadcasters from acquiring daily newspapers in their markets, sources said.

`Roswell’ in trouble

Los Angeles-The WB Network is close to canceling struggling 9 p.m. (ET) Monday sci-fi drama “Roswell,” sources said, with officials at series producer 20th Century Fox Television meeting with WB programmers late Friday. The relationship between The WB and 20th Century Fox Television is strained due to the sale of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to UPN.

Kantrowitz exits WB

New York-On the eve of the upfront, Julie Kantrowitz has stepped down as executive vice president of media sales at Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, the largest syndication advertising seller. Paul Montoya, senior vice president of East Coast media sales, will head the unit on an interim basis.

CEA: Set up set-top market

Los Angeles-The Consumer Electronics Association urged the Federal Communications Commission to speed up creation of a retail market for cable set-top boxes. In comments filed with the agency, CEA said progress on developing standards to ensure compatibility between digital cable television systems and digital cable set-tops has been too slow. It specifically blamed the cable industry for insisting on specifications it says would threaten interoperability and curb home video recording rights. But the National Cable & Telecommunications Association says those specs are necessary to protect programmers from video pirates who might otherwise mass-produce picture-perfect digital copies.