Hollywood screenwriters stand up to streaming platforms and decide to go on strike

After 15 years of calm, a storm broke out in the world of Hollywood. The writers of the most-watched TV shows and series in the United States have decided to stand up to the studios and will go on strike this Tuesday to improve their pay conditions, after an agreement was not reached between the union and the studios. . This is the first time that Los Angeles screenwriters have gone on strike since the arrival of major media platforms. streamwhich in less than ten years have completely changed the way employees work and pay in the entertainment industry.

The US writers’ union, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), represents more than 1,500 writers who voted almost unanimously (98%) in favor of a strike on April 17. His three-year contract expired early Monday, the deadline to reach an agreement with the studios. Specifically, the WGA was going to get an additional $600 million from the deal for writers. Since they were told not to study, they decided to start picketing on Tuesday afternoon for an indefinite strike.

The Hollywood studios, which represent the Alliance of Film and Television Producers, expressed regret that an agreement could not be reached, saying their offer included “a big increase in writers’ compensation” and that they were ready to continue negotiations. . In addition, they said the main reason for the disagreement with the workers was their demand to have a certain number of writers on shows, series and films for a certain period of time, “whether it is necessary or not”.

For its part, the union asserted that “the companies’ immovable position in this negotiation has betrayed their commitment and will further devalue the writing profession.” The WGA described the negotiations as “existential” for the “survival” of screenwriters. The dispute pits thousands of screenwriters against major studios that include traditional entertainment giants such as Universal and Paramount, as well as tech industry newcomers such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

Million dollar results

The last time there was a strike of this nature 15 years ago, it lasted 14 weeks and meant significant damage to the sector: it cost $2.1 billion and destroyed 37,000 jobs. In 2017, the same union, the WGA, again voted in favor of a strike, but an agreement was finally reached. However, studies this time failed to prevent the strike, which is expected to cost millions.

This mobilization, in an industry that employs 2.4 million people, will have further consequences that will have a strong impact on the economy of Los Angeles (the second city in the country) and California as a whole. The strike, whose duration is undetermined, means an immediate shutdown at studios producing late-night talk shows and television series, which will have a major impact on premieres scheduled for this fall.

These include popular shows like Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. On the other hand, we are likely to see a boom in reality and international shows as they are not covered by the Guild. In fact, the 2007 strike as a side effect led to the rise of unscripted television programs as a studio emergency measure due to a lack of writers.

Thus, television will suffer immediately as its writers work on their shows every day. And in the medium term, if the strike lasts for several weeks, productions on the big screen will also suffer.

Less and less paid work

The Writers’ Union regrets that studies have benefited from the rise of platforms stream reducing their wages. In particular, the WGA ensures that writers are more likely to work at a contractual minimum wage and for a shorter period of time.

If the writers had previously worked on about 22-episode seasons with paid pilots before the series aired, the era stream Seasons are seven episodes short, and shows are usually aired straight without pilots.

On the other hand, although a less pressing demand, writers have called for barriers to the use of text-generating artificial intelligence like ChatGPT, which directly threatens their creative work and which entertainment companies have already begun experimenting with. .

In addition, the service stream, such as Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video or Disney +, introduced another important change that affects the income of workers. In many cases, they buy the global rights to the shows for several years, which means that the writers end up making a lot of money from repeat and international sales.

The strike comes at a bad time for the entertainment industry, which has shrunk in recent years as streaming companies and other big Wall Street investors poured in large sums of money to create new shows. But with fierce competition and an increasingly less profitable business model, a crisis began last year that is still ongoing. Since then, the same investors who were guided by the philosophy of burning money streamThey’ve become tougher now that they see their margins shrinking.

And this is already having consequences at the job level. For example, Disney, one of the last to join stream, has already announced that it is in the process of laying off 7,000 employees (including writers, but also people responsible for marketing programs). Also Warner Bros. Discovery laid off thousands of people last year and is struggling to repay $50 billion in debt.

FilmLA, a company that manages filming permits, estimates that film and television production in the city of Los Angeles fell 24% in the first quarter alone. The hardest hit category is TV dramas, which fell by 40%. These production shutdowns in an industry that has protested, shown solidarity, and spanned 153 days in 1988 and 100 days in 2007 threaten to wreak havoc on Hollywood.

Source: El Diario





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