US writers’ strike called off

Shows like The Walking Dead will no longer be delayed after the Writers Guild of America agree a new deal

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Time to join the collective sigh of relief: your favourite US shows and films won’t be delayed as Hollywood writers have called off a planned strike.

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The Writers Guild of America reached a new three-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (representing the studios). The new contract was reached soon after the old one between studios and more than 12,000 writers expired at midnight.

Speaking to Deadline, the writers’ chief negotiator David Young said: “It’s the art of the possible — we did the best we could.”

In a short statement, the two parties said they had both secured “a tentative agreement on terms for a new three-year collective bargaining agreement.”

Why were the writers going to strike?

Although there’s been an explosion of scripted TV in recent years, some writers haven’t been gifted a significant pay rise in comparison to other areas of the industry. In particular, the unions claim writers get poor pay for online shows broadcast on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Combine that with a faltering health plan the increasing timescale to make a show and writers have a problem. Although there’s more scripted TV, episodes are getting more expensive and lengthier to make, meaning season sizes have become a lot shorter. That means those who are paid by episode are missing out.

Has the deal sorted these issues?

At least partly. The WGA negotiating committee said in a statement to Deadline that writers have made gains “in minimums across the board — as well as contribution increases to our Health Plan that should ensure its solvency for years to come. And we further expanded our protections in Options and Exclusivity.

“We also made unprecedented gains on the issue of short seasons in television, winning a definition (which has never before existed in our MBA) of 2.4 weeks of work for each episodic fee. Any work beyond that span will now require additional payment for hundreds of writer-producers.”

Is the trouble over?

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Possibly. There’s still another round of negotiations later this month. And then we have to think about the actors’ contract with studios – that expires on June 30th. But, for the moment, it looks like your US TV is safe.