Writers Guild of America Goes on Strike

Writers Guild of America Goes on Strike
  • Writers and producers of television shows negotiated a new contract for six weeks.
  • Writers Guild of America announced a strike.
  • Producers have been unwilling to give into the writers’ demands thus far.
  • The strike could go on for months.

(NewsReady.com) – Television has changed significantly over the last two decades. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and others make it easy for viewers to watch their favorite shows after they have aired. That has created a change in the way television scriptwriters are paid.

The rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, like ChatGPT, is also threatening to change the way the industry operates. These factors, and others, led to a strike that could last for months.

Writers Guild of America

On Monday, May 1, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), the union that represents Hollywood’s writers, announced it was going on strike. According to the statement, the union said its negotiating committee was locked in negotiations with Amazon, Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Discovery-Warner, Sony, and NBC Universal, under their organization, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

WGA was trying to negotiate a new and fair contract for writers who have been allegedly left out in the cold as streaming platforms have risen in popularity. The union accused the producers of deploying business practices that have “slashed [their] compensation and residuals and undermined [their] working conditions.”

In 2022, screenwriter Brenden Gallagher posted about residuals on Twitter, explaining that they are asking for a “higher fee based on views” now that streamers have shifted how content is broadcast. He said there isn’t a traditional residual fee anymore for programs that do not “air” on television.

WGA also alleged the production companies are refusing to “guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television.” Writers are also worried that producers might try to use AI to write scripts and are asking them to put safeguards in place, but they have refused.

Consequences of the Strike

The day after the strike was announced, late-night television shut down production. “The Late Show,” “The Tonight Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and others began running previously aired shows. Since many television shows have already aired their season finales, it might not hurt regular network shows just yet.

However, as the strike drags on, it threatens the fall lineup. The last time WGA started a strike, it lasted more than three months. The longest one took place in 1988 and went on for 153 days. If that happens, shows won’t be able to release their fall premieres. Streaming services that have a reserve of content might not be hit too hard right away. Daytime talk shows might also start shutting down soon.

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