Hollywood writers’ strike-ending deal terms are ‘meaningful gains and protections’ for WGA members

WGA members on strike in Hollywood
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The Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) ended its months-long strike on 27 September. The decision came after an agreement on terms broadly seen as a win for writers throughout Hollywood.

Details of the three-year deal released by the WGA seemed to show a victory for the writers, who were pushing for more pay amid the upending of the industry via streaming and artificial intelligence.

WGA agreement terms

The deal will institute bonuses on a series viewed by 20% or more of a streamer’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days of its release. The union had made this demand due to falling residuals in the internet era.

Meanwhile, AI-generated scripts can’t be considered “source material”. This will prevent studios from undercutting writers’ pay if they work on a script that used AI. Studios will also need to let writers know that they’re giving writers AI-generated material. The WGA also “reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited”, according to the summary.

However, the agreement didn’t represent a total victory. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the WGA reached a “limited” compromise on streaming transparency. Platforms such as Netflix will provide the WGA with confidential access to streaming figures on their own productions. However, the union will then disclose these figures to its members “in aggregated form”. The WGA won’t make these figures public. Houston Socialist Alternative pointed out that this will make it “difficult to tell if writers are being shortchanged”.

Members are yet to ratify the agreement

Nonetheless, the WGA’s board of directors statement said it “voted unanimously to recommend the agreement”. It added:

We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional — with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership

Read on...

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The union’s 11,500 members are yet to vote on the agreement. Theoretically, they can still reject the deal, but most industry experts believe the ratification will be a formality. Members’ votes on the deal will end on 9 October.

The 148-day-long industrial action was the second longest in the WGA’s history. Only the 1988 strike, which lasted 154 days, surpassed it.

Actors strike continues

While the writers strike has ended, the actors strike continues. The SAG-AFTRA actors union met Hollywood studio bosses in Los Angeles on 4 October for the week’s second round of talks.

Members saw the successful resolution of the WGA’s dispute as positive news for their own strike. However, SAG-AFTRA’s pay demands go further than those of the writers. Its concerns about the threat of AI also arguably run deeper, such as fear that the technology could be used to clone their voices and likenesses, and reuse them in perpetuity without compensation or consent.

Actors also have their own specific demands. They include restrictions on the use of remote, self-taped auditions, which became ubiquitous during the pandemic but are disliked by many.

On 2 October, the WGA issued a statement of its ongoing support for SAG-AFTRA’s strike.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

Featured image via Yahoo Finance/YouTube

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