Hollywood at Peace: An End to the Strikes Near?

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The Writers’ Guild of America and Hollywood came to a tentative agreement to end the strike (Image credit: ABC)

Following five days of negotiation, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have officially reached a tentative agreement, ending the 146-day writers’ strike mentioned in this previous article. However, although picketing will stop, writers will still continue to strike until the final deal becomes ratified. 

The Writers’ Strike has been an important issue in media circles over the past months, exposing the problems within the media industry: specifically considering writer pay by large corporations such as ABC and Netflix. While there seem to be improvements made, nothing is final.

To officially take effect, the contract must be approved by most of the guild’s 11,500 film and TV show writers. The deal is already expected to be ratified, given the strong support WGA leaders have already received from guild members. 

The contract of the new deal would mean a three-year film and TV contract for writers, including many of the fundamental principles the WGA has been fighting for. Among these would be better pay from streaming services, protection around the usage of artificial intelligence, and other provisions. These create job security for the writers and ensure they have a livable wage, a major grievance among current writers on strike.

In particular, the WGA is worried about using generative AI, a type of system that could generate texts, images, video, etc., such as ChatGPT, which could be used to replace human workers to cut costs. While studios have expressed interest in gaining more freedom to experiment with emerging AI technology, the WGA has worked for limitations on AI-written scripts. The contract has reportedly included “groundbreaking additions” on the usage of AI; however, the specifics of the deal still remain unclear.

Another critical point is staffing requirements, which WGA has proposed for a TV staffing minimum of six to twelve writers a show, depending on the number of episodes within a season. ATMP has then denied this proposal, with even some members of the WGA opposing this. While the exact compromise reached between both parties is still unclear, after weeks of negotiation, the studios have reportedly yielded by offering showrunners the freedom to hire a chosen number of writers depending on the show’s budget. While not considered a win for writers entirely, this compromise is still an improvement from previous conditions.

This new contract has also reportedly included a plan for residual payment to writers working on TV shows. The amount of residual compensation would then depend, with varying amounts, on the success of the streaming show. 

“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the WGA committee wrote in an email to its members. 

Even with this new agreement, it’s very possible many Hollywood productions won’t return soon. Scripted productions still won’t be able to return because those require actors, who are still currently striking. As a result of both the writers’ and actors’ strikes, many film and television productions have already been postponed to the future, and production will likely not pick up to pre-strike pace for a while. However, this new agreement brings hope for writers on strike for better working conditions.

Written by Kevin Han

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