Writers Guild To Negotiate New Contract: Streaming Residuals an Issue

Writers Guild To Negotiate New Contract: Streaming Residuals an Issue

Hollywood is bracing for a possible strike by The Writers Guild of America, whose current three-year contract will be expiring on May 1.

Contract negotiations between The Guild and The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are set to begin on March 20, a reversal of the usual pattern in which The Directors Guild contract is typically the first to be hammered out. In announcing the talks, The Alliance said, “The AMPTP is fully committed to reaching a fair and reasonable deal that brings strength and stability to the industry. No comment was reported coming from Writers Guild, which would only confirm the date.

With the increasing use of streaming as a distribution tool, the WGA wants to increase base wages as well as streaming residuals. The last Guild strike in 2007-08, which lasted 100 days centered around compensation for “new media” that has only increased exponentially since then.

Industry observers worry the threat of a strike might sound the death knell for some shows. For example, the 2007-08 strike resulted in the cancellation of the sci-fi romance Journeyman on NBC, the comedy-drama Cashmere Mafia on ABC, and the sitcom Girlfriends on CW. More recent cancellations by budget-conscious executives have included HBO’s Doom Patrol and Titans, as well as Neflix’s Cobra Kai and Warrior Nun.

Prior to the opening of negotiations, the WGA is conducting meetings on both the East and West coasts to get feedback from its members, who will also be voting on its members’ wishes. At some point prior to the start of negotiations, members will also vote on a “pattern of demands” aka “general objectives.”

The Writers Guild of America is actually two different labor unions, one headquartered in New York and affiliated with the AFL-CIO, and the other based in Los Angeles. The two unions typically collaborate on industry-wide negotiations such as the talks set to begin in March.

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