Hollywood writers went on strike, halting production on many TV shows


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More than 11,000 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) will go on strike Tuesday morning for the first time since 2007, which could immediately halt production on many TV shows and delay the start of new seasons on others. later this year.

“While we negotiated with the intention of reaching a fair deal … given the existential crisis facing writers, the studios’ response to our proposals was woefully inadequate,” the union’s leadership said in a statement.

“They closed the door on the workforce and opened the door to writing as a completely independent profession. These members may never consider such an agreement.

While union members have been on strike since 3 a.m. EDT Tuesday, the WGA tweeted Tuesday afternoon that it would not be setting up picket lines.

The studios, which revealed Monday that negotiations had ended without a deal before the deadline for the strike, said they were willing to improve their offer but were not ready to meet some of the union’s demands.

“The main sticking points are ‘mandatory staffing’ and ‘terms of work’ – Guild proposals that require a company to provide a show with a certain number of writers for a certain period of time. it is indicated whether it is necessary or not,” said the statement of the employers’ negotiation committee.

“Member companies remain united in their pursuit of a mutually beneficial agreement for writers and the health and longevity of the industry, and to avoid hardship for the thousands of employees who depend on the industry.”

The distance between the two teams indicated that this could be the start of a long strike. The last strike, which began in November 2007, lasted 100 days until February 2008.

Many shows on cable and broadcast networks have already finished their final episodes of the current season, but viewers can see the impact of late-night shows, daytime soap operas and shows like “Saturday Night Live,” which may end early. their seasons.

Showrunner Seth Meyers, who picketed as a writer at SNL during the last strike, prepared his viewers that if there was a strike, Late Night with Seth Meyers would not air. Other shows that could be immediately affected did not immediately respond to requests for comment about their plans.

The strike comes at a time when both sides say they are struggling financially.

Many media and technology companies that produce shows that use writers have seen their stock prices plummet, leading to significant cost-cutting, including layoffs.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), represented by Amazon ( AMZN ), Apple ( AAPL ), CBS ( VIAC ), Disney ( DIS ), NBC Universal, Netflix ( NFLX ), Paramount Global, is leading the negotiations. , Sony ( SNE ) and CNN parent Warner Bros. Discovery.

But writers, many of whom are unable to support themselves by writing independently, are facing fewer job opportunities and losing some sources of income as they move away from the traditional broadcasting and programming industries. via cable to streaming services.

While not all WGA members are currently out of work, a strike could soon slow down thousands of workers producing shows and movies. The strike could have far-reaching effects on the industry and elsewhere in Southern California and New York.

AMPTP estimates that 20,000 people working on up to 600 productions could lose their jobs if screenwriters stop production.

The 2007 strike caused an estimated $2 billion in economic losses, mostly in Southern California. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $3 billion today. In the 15 years since the last strike, the industry has changed dramatically.

These changes have accelerated since the last round of 2020 negotiations in the early weeks of the pandemic. The rise of streaming services has changed the way audiences consume both TV shows and movies, and studios have adjusted their business models to try to respond.

Writers traditionally receive a residual when a show they write is sold for reruns in syndication or basic cable. It has been a major source of income for many writers over the years. But under the current state of the contract, it’s unlikely they’ll get significant residuals from creating original content for streaming services.

As streaming services are poised to become the future of television entertainment, the Guild has struggled to secure consistent compensation from streaming services in these negotiations.

This appetite for content on streaming services also means it may not be long before the strike starts affecting production schedules. Shows that normally air due to the start of the fall season will be canceled for the next two months. But now the productions take place throughout the year than in the past.

Although many streaming services are not yet profitable, they provide studios with a source of revenue through monthly subscription fees, reducing their reliance on advertising revenue that can be lost due to the need for rebroadcasts. on broadcast or cable channels.

Streaming services also have a large stockpile of older content that can at least temporarily satisfy their customers while they wait for new shows.

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