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WGA Seeks Higher Compensation Amid Streaming Boom, Threatens First Strike in 15 Years

  • Craig Miller
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  • March 30, 2023
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  • 4 minute read
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WGA Seeks Higher Compensation Amid Streaming Boom, Threatens First Strike in 15 Years

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has commenced high-stakes negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for a new three-year contract, as the current agreement is set to expire on May 1.

The potential writers’ strike could cause massive disruption to television and film projects across the industry, affecting not only writers but also other professionals involved in production.

Representing over 11,000 television and movie writers, the WGA is seeking higher compensation, improved workplace standards, and a boost in contributions to pension and health funds.

The outcome of these negotiations will determine if the entertainment industry faces its first writers’ strike in 15 years.

Writers Seek Fair Compensation Amid Streaming Revolution

As the industry shifts towards streaming platforms, the WGA claims that Hollywood companies have taken advantage of this change to devalue writers’ work, leading to worsening working conditions.

The rapid transition to streaming entertainment has upended nearly every corner of Hollywood, and writers believe they have been left behind.

With fewer episodes per season on streaming platforms compared to traditional networks, writers are often paid less while working more.

Residual fees, or money paid when a film or series is rerun or aired on broadcast, have helped supplement writers’ income for years.

However, these fees are disappearing in the streaming era, where most projects ultimately land.

Artificial Intelligence and Its Impact on Writers

The WGA is also asking for studios to establish standards around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The guild wants the use of AI regulated in terms of material created for the studios.

The exact terms of agreement regarding AI have yet to be determined, and the WGA will have to overcome several hurdles to deliver its objectives to members.

Uncertainty Surrounding Potential Strike

No outcome is certain, but the situation suggests an easy resolution is unlikely.

Producers have begun to stockpile scripts by asking writers to complete as many ahead of the May 1 deadline as possible.

A walkout must first be authorized by union members, and the WGA has signaled that it could conduct a vote as early as the first week in April.

Although authorization gives the union leverage, it does not necessarily mean a strike is inevitable.

Gig Economy and Job Insecurity

With the growing demand for content, many professionals in the entertainment industry work on a project-to-project basis, leading to job insecurity and a lack of long-term stability.

This gig economy structure can make it difficult for workers to plan their careers and secure stable income.

The potential writers’ strike highlights the need for better workplace standards and more reliable compensation structures to address the challenges faced by Hollywood workers in this evolving landscape.

Effects of a Strike on the Entertainment Industry

A strike would gradually halt the production of many television shows, except for reality and news programs, which would remain mostly unaffected.

Viewers would notice the fallout first among entertainment talk shows and later among scripted TV series by the end of the year.

Moviegoers would not experience immediate effects, as movie studios work about a year ahead. 

However, the risk involves 2024, especially if studios rush to beat a strike by putting films into production with unfinished scripts.

The potential writers’ strike could cause massive disruption to television and film projects across the industry, affecting not only writers but also other professionals involved in production.

Tens of thousands of entertainment workers were idled during the 2007 strike, and the Los Angeles economy suffered losses of more than $2 billion.

As negotiations continue, the impact of a potential strike on the broader Hollywood workforce remains a critical concern.

The Future of Negotiations

The initial round of talks is expected to last two weeks, after which there will be a break for the WGA to update its members on the progress.

Negotiations will then resume with the aim of reaching an agreement before May 1.

The AMPTP has stated that it is approaching the negotiations “with the long-term health and stability of the industry as our priority” and is “fully committed to reaching a mutually beneficial deal.”

Craig Miller

Craig Miller

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