After the WME filed an antitrust lawsuit against the WGA, the Writer’s Guild decided to fight back. On Friday, the WGA sent a cease and desist letter to the ATA, claiming in the letter that they “have collusively agreed not to sign the guild’s Code of Conduct. Following news that Verve had negotiated a Code of Conduct and Franchise Agreement with the WGA, the ATA and its leading members closed ranks and threatened to retaliate against Verve and, implicitly, against any agency that subsequently reached an agreement with the guild.” Read the full letter here.
This came as a surprising twist, as on Thursday, the WGA offered the ATA a deal: they could still apply packaging fees but only for one year, after which they must switch to the 10% commission model. The deal was a modification of the one proposed back in April. Read the full updated agreement here. The WGA stated that the offer was being made “despite the fact that every one of the eight member agencies of the ATA ‘bargaining’ committee has rejected the offer we made last week to meet individually and discuss this new proposal.” They acknowledged the lawsuit and stated a warning: “UTA has joined WME and filed its own lawsuit accusing the Writers Guild of engaging in, of all things, an antitrust violation. But make no mistake – writers are in no fashion intimidated by these actions; tomorrow we will inform you of the guild’s response to the agencies’ lawsuits and collusive behavior.”
The cease and desist letter also accused the ATA of “collusive actions that constitute unlawful restraints of trade.” The alleged collusion, according to the WGA, refers to the ATA’s act of allegedly hiding the amount made by agencies for packaging fees. In a letter to its members, the WGA stated that “the agencies will continue packaging fees and production arms, and will hide how much they make by these practices. They claim we don’t know what is good for us as writers, and that they know better than Guild leaders and 95.3% of members what kind of representation we deserve.”
The letter ends with a deadline for the ATA to cease and desist with its alleged anticompetitive behavior: July 15th. As the battle continues, it remains to be seen whether the WGA and ATA will be able to reach a mutual agreement.