If you’re like me, you’ve been dreading what seemed to be an impending strike of the Writers Guild of America. Back in 2007, we had a strike, and it had some real annoying ramifications on the industry. Not only did we have to find alternative means of entertainment since new nighttime shows couldn’t get made, but series like Heroes were irreparably harmed in the process. What’s more, the strike wouldn’t allow writers to work on the set of films, and if you had a writer/director scenario, the director couldn’t so much as recommend a word change on set.
I feared that nighttime TV would disappear, TV shows hitting later this year or next year would drop in quality, and so would films hitting theaters next year. And that’s just how it affects us at a consumer level. That’s not even how it affects those actually in the industry. Productions shut down, workers with families couldn’t get a paycheck, and if the strike had lasted nearly as long as the 2007 one, it could have cost Hollywood $500 million.
Luckily for us, it sounds like the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have come to an agreement, as per the WGA West’s official website.
“We also made unprecedented gains on the issue of short seasons in television, winning a definition (which has never before existed in our MBA) of 2.4 weeks of work for each episodic fee. Any work beyond that span will now require additional payment for hundreds of writer-producers.
“We won a 15% increase in Pay TV residuals, roughly $15 million in increases in High-Budget SVOD residuals, and, for the first time ever, residuals for comedy-variety writers in Pay TV.
“And, also for the first time ever, job protection on Parental Leave.
“Did we get everything we wanted? No. Everything we deserve? Certainly not. But because we had the near-unanimous backing of you and your fellow writers, we were able to achieve a deal that will net this Guild’s members $130 million more, over the life of the contract, than the pattern we were expected to accept.”
While there are no doubt a wide range of issues that were covered, one of the big ones revolved around the changing landscape of TV. No doubt, you’ve noticed that things have drastically changed over the past five years or so. TV is no longer restricted consistent and episodic work. We have limited series, 13-episode series, inconsistent season schedules that air or drop whenever they damn well please, and everything in between. often times, these 13-episode series leave writers with fewer episodes to write, and less consistent work.
Obviously, we don’t know all the specifics, but the huge takeaway here is that no one is out of the job, we still get our content as consumers, and we can all move forward. At this point, the deal still needs to go forward to WGA West and WGA East for approval, but given the statement, it sounds like we have very little to worry about.
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