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TV and Movie Writers Go On Strike

On May 2, 2023, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) began to strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The AMPTP represents the studios making tv and movie content in negotiations with WGA. Over 98% of the Guild's 11,500 members voted to strike against the studios.

The writers say the significant rise in streaming services and television production has seriously degraded their working conditions. As an example, Netflix will hire a small group of writers to map out a season for a new series before greenlighting the show. At this stage, Netflix pays the writers less and uses them for a shorter period. Once Netflix greenlights the project, the company will not bring the writers back for production. These short projects require writers to keep looking for their next jobs to make a living. Many writers suggest it is not sustainable for them to live in the new production climate and feel they have nothing to lose by striking. The unions say the current approach by studios has "created a gig economy inside a union workforce." The number of shows in production has significantly increased, but the writers' pay has stagnated. Before streaming took over, television show writers wrote twenty-plus episodes per season, enough to live off of for a year. Now, a typical series is 8-12 episodes, and the median pay has decreased. In addition, writers used to earn compensation from the repeat playing of their shows in syndication. With streaming, those residuals are reduced. The strikers also sought some protections from anticipated changes due to A.I., such as not encroaching on writers' credits and compensation. The studios rejected those protections.

The WGA last had a strike in 2007, lasting over three months. Entertainment companies assert they have offered "generous increases in compensation for writers" and have issued a detailed rebuttal to the assertions made by the WGA. The companies believe they can weather a strike with many shows ready to be released.