Hollywood is faced with a strike as the Writers Guild of America is protesting and speaking up about the “existential crisis” faced by writers.
According to NBC News, after tense negotiations between the guild and Hollywood studios trade association The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers fell through, the unionized writers have forced Hollywood to close down by walking out. This is the first strike in over 15 years.
The guild states that writers face an “existential crisis” as more studios refuse to acknowledge the work that goes into writing for television and film. The guild said in a statement, “The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union work force, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing.”
The Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers said in a statement that their offer included “generous increases in compensation for writers,” but the studios failed to agree on the Writers Guild’s proposals that would make it mandatory “to staff television shows with a certain number of writers for a specific period of time, ‘whether needed or not,'” according to NBC News.
The proposals are probably a way the guild hoped Hollywood studios would avail the worries of writers who are facing increasing uphill battles against AI, the increase of streaming programming and the downward trajectory of broadcast viewing. As Shadow and Act have also reported, several scripted series have been cut mid or post-production as networks with streaming components, like Showtime and HBO, fall under new leadership.
Guild members are looking for pay increases and changes to the current business model that makes it tough for writers to earn a living, citing streaming platforms decreasing median writer-producer pay. The guild said, “The companies have used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels.” While writers are “working at a minimum regardless of experience,” TV and film executives have seen their salaries increase. Writers have cited that streaming shows run fewer episodes than broadcast, which makes income unstable. Also, writers are seeing little to no residual fees for streaming shows since streaming doesn’t utilize syndication rules.
The strike has brought late-night shows to an immediate halt, and Saturday Night Live could also go without airing this weekend. Scripted series might have to cut or delay their seasons. It is unclear how long the strike will last or when an agreement will be reached.