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The End of the Writers Guild of America Strike: A Mixed Bag for Writers

After 148 grueling days, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike has finally come to an end. The strike, which began in May, was triggered by contentious issues such as writing room staff levels, the use of AI, and pay structures. The strike saw numerous shows postponed or canceled as writers were no longer allowed to contribute to scripts. However, the end of the strike doesn't necessarily mean a clear victory for all writers. Let's delve into the winners and losers in the aftermath of the WGA strike.

 

Winners:

 

Netflix Writers:

One of the significant wins from the strike is the increase in foreign streaming residuals. The new agreement states that these residuals will now be based on the streaming service's number of foreign subscribers. This change will result in a 76% increase in foreign residuals for services with the largest global subscriber bases over three years. For instance, writers for Netflix will see their three-year foreign residuals rise from $18,684 for a one-hour episode to $32,830.

 

 Showrunners with Sole Writing Credit:

The new agreement also addresses the issue of staffing in development rooms. It requires a minimum number of writers to be hired for series greenlit for at least six episodes per season. However, an exception has been made for shows written by a sole writer or showrunner, allowing them to produce their work as a solo entity.

 

Screenwriters:

The majority of screenwriters will now be guaranteed payment for at least one rewrite of a screenplay draft. This is a significant win, especially for those working on reboots, remakes, and existing intellectual property, who were previously not entitled to such payment.

 

Losers:

 

Secretive Streamers:

The new agreement requires streaming platforms to share data on their viewing figures, a practice they have notoriously avoided. While this is a win for transparency, it may not be as comprehensive as the guilds had hoped. The WGA will only have access to confidential reports of the total number of hours streamed.

 

AI Software Companies:

The new agreement imposes strict limits on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in writing. AI-generated material cannot be used to undermine a writer's credit or separated rights, and AI cannot be used to write or rewrite literary material.

 

Writers on Successful Old Cable/Network Shows:

While many writers have seen improvements in their residual packages, original writers on older cable and network TV projects that have subsequently aired on streamers will remain uncompensated by the newer platforms.

 

The new agreement reached at the end of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike does not necessarily mean that only about half the writers would get jobs. The agreement does mandate a minimum number of writers to be hired for series that have been greenlit for at least six episodes per season. However, this doesn't limit the maximum number of writers that can be hired.

 

The agreement also makes an exception for shows written by a sole writer or showrunner, allowing them to produce their work as a solo entity. This could potentially reduce the number of writing jobs on such shows. However, it's important to note that this is an exception and not the norm.

 

Moreover, the agreement also includes provisions for better staffing in development rooms, which could potentially lead to more employment opportunities for writers.

 

So while the new agreement does introduce some changes to staffing and hiring practices, it doesn't necessarily mean that only about half the writers would get jobs. The actual impact on employment opportunities for writers would depend on a variety of factors, including the number of shows being produced, the preferences of showrunners, and the demand for writers in the industry.

 

 

The end of the WGA strike brings with it a mixed bag of outcomes for writers. While there have been significant wins in areas such as foreign residuals and guaranteed payment for screenplay rewrites, there are also areas where writers have lost out, such as the lack of compensation for writers on older shows now airing on streaming platforms. As the dust settles, it's clear that the fight for fair compensation and rights for writers in the ever-evolving entertainment industry continues.

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