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Daily Archives: February 12, 2008

Extra troops for Timor as PM declare state of emergency


 East Timor’s Prime Minister XananaGusmao yesterday declared a state of
emergency would be in force nationwide for at least 48 hours after President Jose
Ramos-Horta was shot and wounded.

End to writers strike near as union leaders endorse deal

by Rob Woollard*

The Hollywood writers strike edged closer to a conclusion on Sunday after union leaders formally endorsed a new contract to settle the bitter three-month long dispute.
Writers Guild of America (WGA) board members in New York and Los Angeles approved a new contract and will now hold two ballots of members to end the most damaging US entertainment industry labor dispute in decades.
The first vote, to be held on Tuesday, will see the strike declared over, allowing writers to return to work on Wednesday. A second vote on the contract itself will be held within 10-14 days, union officials said.
"We're still on strike until that restraining order is lifted," said Patric Verrone, the WGA-West president, referring to Tuesday's vote.
Writers downed tools on November 5, a move that sent shockwaves through the industry, forcing the postponement or cancellation of several television shows and movies, and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
Previous contract talks between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) collapsed the issue of payment for content broadcast free or bought over the Internet.
However a breakthrough in negotiations saw the WGA reach a tentative agreement with producers, and a proposed new deal was tabled to writers at meetings in New York and Los Angeles on Saturday.
Under the proposed three-year contract, the writers share of movies and televisions shows sold online would be doubled.
For content streamed free over the web, writers will get a fixed payment of 1,200 dollars per year for one-hour webcasts for the first two years, followed by two percent of any revenues earned by the distributor in the third year.
The deal received enthusiastic backing by WGA members who attended Saturday's meeting in Los Angeles.
"People were extremely relieved and satisfied," writer James Bannon said. "It didn't please everyone, but I would say nine out of 10 people were extremely happy."
"This is the best deal this guild has bargained for in 30 years after the most successful strike this guild has waged in 35 years," Verrone reporters at a news conference on Sunday.
"It's not all we deserve but as I told our members, this strike was about the future and this deal assures for us and for future generations of writers a share in the future."
The writers strike has been one of the longest and most damaging in the entertainment industry's history, with estimated losses ranging from 350 million to more than one billion dollars.
It has also severely disrupted Hollywood's annual awards season, leading to the cancellation of the Golden Globes awards after actors vowed to boycott the event, and casting a shadow over preparations for the February 24 Oscars.
WGA negotiating committee chairman John Bowman said Sunday he believed the Golden Globes cancellation had spurred senior studio chiefs to come to the negotiating table.
"We spent nearly three months with the studios' management, frankly getting nowhere," Bowman said. "I think what happened at the Golden Globes brought the CEOS to the table."
The entertainment industry's labor woes might not be over however: The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that actors have made increasingly militant noises ahead of negotiations to replace a contract that expires in June.