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Hollywood: Screenwriters strike after negotiations with studios fail

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For the first time in 15 years, more than 10,000 screenwriters and television writers unionize, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), after negotiations between the union and the studios failed.

The WGA’s Eastern and Western chapters voted unanimously in favor of the strike that began Tuesday (May 2), the union said in a statement, adding that the screenwriters are facing an “existential crisis.”

This strike comes after six weeks of negotiations between the union andMotion Picture and Television Producers Alliance (AMPTP), representing major Hollywood studios and streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Sony.

The WGA has asked its 11,500 members to stop writing screenplays, and a sit-in is expected on Tuesday afternoon.

A major concern of the WGA is the rise of broadcast services and the impact of the traditional residual payment structure, which includes payments from home video sales and television merchandising.

In a statement, AMPTP said its offer included “generous increases in writers’ compensation, as well as improvements in remaining payments for live broadcasters,” but that a deal could not be reached until the end of the current contract. WGA.

Negotiations could not proceed due to AMPTP’s opposition regarding two proposals put forward by the WGA. The first is to propose a minimum of six screenwriters for a TV series, a number that can rise to 12 depending on the total number of episodes. The second is to propose a guaranteed minimum ten consecutive weeks of employment for a season of a series, which could be as long as 52 weeks depending on the number of episodes. The studios rejected both proposals without making a counteroffer.

In its statement, the WGA said, “The studios’ behavior has created an on-demand economy within a unionized workforce. Furthermore, the inertia they displayed during these negotiations betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the writer’s profession.” […] They closed the door to their workforce and opened the door to writing as a fully independent profession. »

Using artificial intelligence (AI) for screenwriting is one of the concerns that the WGA cited in its proposal. The WGA calls for regulating the use of AI, including prohibiting AI from writing or rewriting “literary material”, using AI to create source material for screenwriters, and prohibiting training AI tools on material written by WGA screenwriters. The studios rejected this proposal and instead proposed holding annual meetings to “discuss technological developments”.

Translated article from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Siladitya Ray

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