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AMPTP Declines WGA Request to Add Anti-Packaging Fee Clause to Contract

WGA wished to add clause prohibiting studios from working with agencies that did not agree to their proposed Code of Conduct

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has declined a request from the Writers Guild of America to renegotiate the current writer-producer contract. The WGA wanted to add a clause that prohibited studios from working with agencies that do not agree to its proposed Code of Conduct.

The Code of Conduct, which WGA members will vote on this week, would require agencies to remove packaging fees from any deals involving guild members and use a 10 percent commission system instead. If passed, the Code will be enforced on April 7, with the WGA calling on its members to leave any agency that doesn’t abide by it.

The WGA had hoped to add Hollywood studios to this plan of continued pressure against Hollywood’s top agencies, but the AMPTP shut that down Monday in a letter from president Carol Lombardini to WGA West executive director David Young.

“The companies have concluded that agreeing to your proposal would require them to participate in a group boycott of talent agencies that do not meet with guild approval,” Lombardini’s letter read.

“We believe that doing so would subject them, the WGA and individual writers to a substantial risk of liability for antitrust violations, including claims for treble damages. The Companies would also be at risk for violation of federal labor laws as well as state laws.”

Lombardini concluded the letter by writing that the AMPTP hopes “that the WGA and the talent agencies will reach a successful resolution of their negotiations for a new WGA/talent agency agreement.”

But a new agreement seems far off with less than two weeks until the current agreement between the Writers Guild and the Association of Talent Agents expires. A pair of meetings between the WGA and ATA last week brought little progress on the key dispute over packaging fees, with the WGA and ATA member United Talent Agency releasing dueling reports on the impact that packaging fees have on writer pay.

The two sides will meet again Tuesday afternoon to continue negotiations. The authorization vote on the Code of Conduct will be open to WGA members from March 27-31.

Correction 4:15 PM: A previous version of this story reported that the next meeting between WGA and ATA will be held Monday afternoon. The meeting is set for Tuesday.