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Writers Guild - Latest Updates *2nd May 2017*

2nd May 2017 - WGA Strike Tentative Deal; No Strike!

Hollywood has dodged a bullet. A threatened writers strike was averted early this morning when the WGA and management’s AMPTP reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year film and TV contract.

Details are still sketchy, but the agreement is expected to save the WGA’s ailing health plan and provide more money and protections for writers of short-order TV shows. The deal now goes to the WGA West’s board and the WGA East’s council for approval, and then to the guilds’ members for ratification.

The news comes after negotiations continued past the three-year film and TV contract’s midnight PT expiration. But sources on both sides said they were close on a new agreement, with the continuing talks proving “constructive.” By 12:45 AM, people inside and around the AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks offices were seen embracing and smiling.

“It was a hard night, but we knew it would be,” a source close to the studios told Deadline of the hours leading up to the early-morning deal.

Talks between the Writers Guild of America and AMPTP studio alliance went down to the wire Monday night but ultimately resulted in a deal, averting a threatened walkout that could have cost jobs and homes, hit the California economy with a $200 million blow per week, accelerated cord-cutting and driven audiences off linear channels and onto digital platforms.

It was not immediately clear how various issues were resolved, but sources earlier told THR that a host of issues remained in play. They included:

* Payment of overages when writers work longer on episodes of short order series, an issue referred to as “span” because the crux of the matter is the time span that a writer spends working on a script.

* Limitations on holds and exclusivity — the practice of putting TV writers on ice, uncompensated, between seasons even on short order series, where the smaller number of episodes mean that the writers are making less to begin with than on traditional network series.

2nd May 2017 - Closing in on a New Contract
Thanks to greenarrowfan1 for the heads up.

UPDATED: Sources on both sides of the bargaining table report that the WGA and AMPTP are closing in on a new contract, averting the threat of a writers strike that could have begun today.

The sides came to terms shortly after midnight after a marathon day of negotiations that began around 11 a.m. PT. The talks were rocky for most of the day, with sources reporting pessimism about the prospect of the sides reaching a deal just two hours before the midnight PT deadline of the previous contract.

28th April 2017
Thanks to Footballfanbutneutral and Ana for the heads up.

As contract talks with the AMPTP enter their final stage, the WGA now says a deal is reachable if the six largest companies share the “small” cost laid out in the writers’ current proposal. In a post filed under “Contract Bulletin 2017” and headlined, “The Cost of Settling is Reasonable,” the WGA says, “The undeniable truth is that these costs are very affordable for these profitable companies.”

24th April 2017
Thanks to Jay and 90sbaby for the heads up.

UPDATED with AMPTP statement: Film and TV writers are ready to take to the picket line next week, voting overwhelmingly to give their union leaders the authority to call a strike if this week’s final round of bargaining fails to produce a contract.

The strike authorization was approved by 96.3% of the 6,310 writers who cast ballots, according to the WGA, a record 67.5% of eligible WGA members. A strike, if it comes to that, can’t begin until midnight May 1, when the current film and TV contract expires. The WGA’s last strike, launched in 2007, lasted 100 days. That authorization vote was approved by 90% of voters.

“We thank you for your resolve and your faith in us as your representatives,” the 2017 negotiating committee said in a statement today accompanying the vote results. “We are determined to achieve a fair contract. Talks will resume tomorrow.”

A strike can still be averted if the WGA and management’s Alliance Of Motion Picture & Television Producers can work out a deal this week. The talks, which took a two-week hiatus to allow the WGA East and WGA West to poll their members on strike authorization, resume tomorrow and are expected to continue throughout the week and possibly into the weekend, if necessary. It’s also possible the strike deadline could be extended if the two sides think they’re close to a deal.

Leaders of the WGA had urged the guild’s 12,000 members to support the strike authorization, asserting that doing so will give negotiators the maximum leverage at the bargaining table. Should negotiators be making progress after talks resume, both sides could agree to extend the current contract.

WGA held three meetings last week for members to rally them. Several attendees at the meetings — closed to everyone except members and staff — said that there was consistent support for the negotiators.

The guild is asking for raises in minimums and script fees in an effort to offset changes in the nature of TV series production that have hit writers’ earnings. It’s pushing for parity for the payment structures for those working on shows for cable and SVOD outlets, where fees remain lower than those for traditional broadcast network TV, along with an increase in employer contributions to the guild’s health plan, which has been operating at a deficit.

A strike would be the first in a decade for the union. The WGA last struck for 100 days between Nov. 5, 2007, and Feb. 12, 2008.

Referring to the planned resumption of talks Tuesday, the AMPTP added, “We remain focused on our objective of reaching a deal with the WGA at the bargaining table when the Guild returns on April 25.”

But achieving a deal in the week remaining with a newly emboldened union will be difficult at best. As of about two weeks ago the parties were $350 million apart, with the writers looking for a $535 million deal and the studios more inclined to reach an agreement valued in the neighborhood of $180 million. That's a ratio of 3 to 1.

Sources tell THR that since then there has been some movement on both sides, but observers find it difficult to see how a multi-hundred million dollar gap will be bridged prior to contract expiration.

That may be what the path to a strike looks like. The last writers strike cost the economy an estimated $2.1 billion to $2.5 billion. The impact this time would depend on a strike’s length, but a job action that persisted for any significant period of time would likely drive viewers away from broadcast and cable scripted reruns to a range of alternatives such as sports, news, reality, Internet video, apps, and library content on digital services such as Netflix.

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