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Terms of WGA strike deal will ‘set the playing field for the future of the TV and film industry’

"[One of the] sticking points towards the end of the negotiation process was around generative AI, with the language in this contract very carefully constructed," analyst Fred Black tells TVBEurope

The news that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have reached a tentative agreement to halt the current strike is giving hope to members of the film and TV industry around the world.

Early this morning UK time, the two sides said they had reached a “tentative agreement” to end the strike, which began 146 days ago.

“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the WGA’s negotiating committee wrote in an email to members.

“To be clear, no one is to return to work until specifically authorised to by the Guild. We are still on strike until then,” the WGA message added.

The WGA’s negotiating committee will decide on Tuesday whether to recommend the agreement to the board of the WGA West and council of WGA East so that they can vote on it. Should that go ahead, the Guild’s 11,000 members will then be asked to vote.

But while the WGA has reached some agreement, the actors’ unions remain on strike.

Fred Black, analyst at Ampere Analysis, tells TVBEurope he believes it is “highly likely” that the WGA members will agree to the new deal. “The lengthy work stoppage has hurt the struck companies, but it has hurt working writers more [as they] have mostly been out of a job for the past five months. Now a deal has been agreed, I think the overwhelming desire will be to get back to work as soon as possible.”

One of the key negotiating points has been the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement on pay, which is understood to have undergone some drastic changes, adds Black. “The other sticking point towards the end of the negotiation process was around generative AI, with the language in this contract very carefully constructed. The agreement of a minimum basic staffing level for episodic TV is also likely on the cards, as it was a red line when we started way back in May.

“Perhaps the most important part of the deal though, will be the agreement on residuals for streaming- both for the immediate benefits to writers who feel their content on streaming platforms has been undervalued, but also as a potential blueprint for the ongoing SAG-AFTRA negotiations.”

Black adds that as many of the issues at the core of the actors’ strike are the same or similar to those covered in the prospective WGA deal, there will be pressure on both sides to use this agreement as a blueprint to bring about a swift resolution to the strike.

“The impact of the writers’ strike has been huge, largely shutting down production before the advent of the actors joining the strike,” says Black. “The resolution has important impacts too – in the new world of streaming, the terms of these agreements will set the playing field for the future of the TV and film industry, serving as the starting point of negotiations between creatives and business leaders for years to come.”

However, even though the writers could be back at work very soon, most of ‘Hollywood’ will remain shut down until the actors and the AMPTP reach an agreement.

“The resolution of production now depends entirely on the SAG-AFTRA strike,” states Black. “While the potential blueprint of the WGA agreement, and the AMPTP negotiators’ undivided attention ought to expedite that process, there is no guarantee of a swift resolution at this point. [Everyone] in Hollywood will be keeping a keen eye for any signs of the desired swift progress towards a resolution.”