Nov 5 (Reuters) - The Writers Guild of America strike against the film and television industry has idled the union’s 12,000 members and will throw some TV programs into immediate reruns, starting with some sitcoms and late-night talk shows.
The last major Hollywood strike was in 1988, when a 22-week walkout by the WGA delayed the start of that year’s fall television season and cost the entertainment industry an estimated $500 million.
Here are some economic factors at stake in the current labor dispute.
* Economists estimate a strike of the same duration as the 1988 walkout would result in at least $1 billion in losses.
* The U.S. film and television industry employs more than 200,000 people — from actors and directors to hairstylists, electricians, truck drivers and clerks.
* The motion picture and TV industry generates $30 billion in annual economic activity for Los Angeles County alone.
* A chief stumbling blocks in contract talks is the writers’ demand for increased “residual” fees they earn on the reuse of their work in the form of Internet downloads. The union seeks 2.5 percent of gross revenues — the studios are offering 1.5 percent on just 20 percent of gross revenues (the same formula already applies for DVD residuals).
* The U.S. download-to-own market for movies and TV episodes — a small but growing chunk of entertainment revenues — is expected to be $315 million this year and nearly $1.2 billion by 2011, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
* The WGA has dropped its demand for higher residuals on DVD sales and rentals, which generated $24.4 billion last year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
* Payments of all residuals to screenwriters are more than $100 million a year, according to industry figures. The union says such payments account for as much as half the income earned by “middle-class” writers who make up the bulk of the WGA’s membership. (Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Bill Trott)