The WGA and the AMPTP have agreed to resume negotiations next week in an effort to resolve the months-long Hollywood writers strike.
The AMPTP announced the news in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Lesley Goldberg: “On Wednesday, September 13, the WGA reached out to the AMPTP and asked for a meeting to move negotiations forward. We have agreed and are working to schedule a meeting next week. Every member company of the AMPTP is committed and eager to reach a fair deal, and to working together with the WGA to end the strike.”
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The WGA confirmed the news as well: “The WGA and AMPTP are in the process of scheduling a time to get back in the room.”
The news comes after a month of little progress in the impasse between Hollywood writers and studios, which began back in May when the writers went on strike. An Aug. 22 meeting between the WGA and AMPTP hit a standstill after the meeting between the two sides reportedly led to no actual talks, but a “lecture,” per the WGA. The studios then broke a mutually agreed-upon media blackout by going public with their 12-day-old offer of a “comprehensive package” to the writers.
After receiving an invite to sit down with Disney’s Bob Iger, Universal Pictures’ Donna Langley, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav and AMPTP president Carol Lombardini, “we were met with a lecture about how good their single and only counteroffer was,” the WGA negotiating committee wrote in an email to members at the time.
“But this wasn’t a meeting to make a deal. This was a meeting to get us to cave, which is why, not 20 minutes after we left the meeting, the AMPTP released its summary of their proposals,” says the WGA email. “This was the companies’ plan from the beginning – not to bargain, but to jam us. It is their only strategy – to bet that we will turn on each other.”
As the studios and streamers disclosed, back on Aug. 11 they offered the WGA “increased data transparency” which will be comprised of “viewership data in the form of quarterly confidential reports,” provided to the guild. This includes “total SVOD view hours per title.”
Other aspects of the Aug. 11 proposal include a compounded 13% compensation increase over a three-year contract, including residual increases; protections (financial and otherwise) against the use of AI; a guaranteed minimum employment rate in development rooms; and new terms and conditions for AVOD (advertising-based video on demand) and SVOD (subscription video on demand).
The WGA and AMPTP resumed negotiations on Aug. 11, just after the strike had crossed the 100-day threshold. Some progress was made that day, with the AMPTP making a counterproposal to the WGA’s most recent contract offer.
“Your Negotiating Committee received a counterproposal from the AMPTP today,” the WGA said in an email to its members at the time. “We will evaluate their offer and, after deliberation, go back to them with the WGA’s response next week.”
At the center of the negotiation: an acknowledgment of, and correcting for, the way that streaming has affected the work, compensation and working conditions of writers. “Over the past decade, the companies embraced business practices that slashed our compensation and undermined our working conditions,” the Writers Guild of America West wrote in a tweet. “We are asking to restore writer pay & conditions to reflect our value to this industry. The survival of our profession is at stake.”
Some of the association’s demands include increased residuals for reuse markets, the reduction of “mini writers rooms” that greatly diminish the size of TV writing staffs, increased contributions to pension plans and health funds, and standardized compensation and residual terms for features released either theatrically or via streaming. In addition: enacted measures to combat discrimination and harassment and promote pay equity, and a strengthened regulation of options and exclusivity in television writer employment contracts.
According to our sister site Variety, the AMPTP’s counterproposal touched on several of these issues, including an offer to give showrunners authority to set the size of the writing staff. More thorough regulations relating to the use of artificial intelligence were also reportedly offered.
The clock is ticking: Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn ominously noted this week that the dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes would have to be resolved by Oct. 1 to have any chance at getting new episodes of scripted TV series on the air during the 2023-24 broadcast season. “You’re going to get to a point in the fall, in the late fall, where it’s going to be very hard to launch [scripted shows] within the traditional TV viewing season,” Thorn told our sister site Deadline.
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