The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are going back to the bargaining table this week after a 17-day break during which time the WGA alerted ad buyers to the possibility of a writers’ strike.
TV writers are threatening to strike if their conditions are not met. The TV industry has changed vastly since the last strike 10 years ago, with many more writers working on limited series and for cable and subscription video on demand (SVOD) services. Cable and SVOD services still pay less for writers’ efforts than broadcast networks, and the guild wants to see parity between the different services. Writers also are getting paid less because they are working on more eight- and 10-episode series, and they aren’t necessarily able to make up the work elsewhere.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the guild is asking for pay increases that would amount to a $535 million contract over three years, while the studios are currently at about $180 million over the same period of time. That $355 million gap could be difficult to bridge.
At the end of March, the WGA walked away from negotiations and went to its membership to initiate a strike vote. Should this next set of talks fail, writers could go on strike as of May 2, two weeks before the broadcast networks hold their annual upfront presentations in New York.
To that end, the WGA last week informed ad buyers that a strike could be pending.
“With the cable networks’ upfronts underway and the broadcast networks’ upfronts beginning in May, I am writing to inform you of a potential labor dispute that could have a significant impact on primetime programming for the 2017-2018 television season,” wrote David J. Young, executive director of Writers’ Guild of America West, to media buyers. “As a stakeholder that may be negatively affected by this dispute, this information may be relevant to your media buying plans.”
Late-night, which is particularly hot right now in the wake of the presidential election, would be the first daypart to be affected since late-night shows are produced day and date.
The studios haven’t taken the strike threats lying down, putting out a statement on March 24: “The WGA broke off negotiations at an early stage in the process in order to secure a strike vote rather than directing its efforts at reaching an agreement at the bargaining table. Keeping the industry working is in everyone’s best interests, and we are ready to return to negotiations when they are.”
According to Variety, the guild could agree to a short-term extension of its current contract if it sees progress in the negotiations.
This week includes the Passover holiday, but talks are expected to continue through Friday. The guild’s membership meets April 18 and 19.
RELATED: Writers Guild Informs Ad Buyers of Potential Strike
READ MORE: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter
[Image courtesy of Getty via The Hollywood Reporter]