Studios buy ads to make their case

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Producers took out full-page ads in Monday’s trade papers to present their side of the story in the strike by Hollywood writers.

In ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, studios emphasized that writers already get paid when TV episodes and films are downloaded from Internet stores such as Apple Inc.’s iTunes. The ads from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers also stated that writers get a fee, or “residual,” when episodes or films are rented online.

Headlined “Setting the Record Straight,” the ads offered the group’s most extensive public statement on Internet payments since the strike began on Nov. 5.

The Writers Guild of America did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The union resumed its pickets Monday at studios.

Writers do not get paid when TV shows are streamed for free on advertising-supported network sites such as or But the ads said a proposal to pay writers for that streaming was on the table when talks broke off on Nov. 4.

Producers said payments from digital rentals and downloads were part of the more than $260 million in “record-breaking residuals” paid to members of the Writers Guild of America’s West Coast branch in 2006. Producers said the figure came from the union’s 2006 annual report, which did not break down what percentage of the residuals came from digital distribution.