CEOs Stay Late in Marathon Bargaining Session With WGA
Four Hollywood CEOs returned to the bargaining table on Thursday for a second day of talks with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), as the industry anxiously awaited signs of progress in ending the 143-day strike. Bob Iger of Disney, David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery, Donna Langley of NBCUniversal, and Ted Sarandos of Netflix were present in the marathon bargaining session, which continued into the evening. While there were reports of progress in several areas, significant issues still remained, leaving the outcome uncertain. The intention was to capitalize on the momentum and work towards reaching a deal, but it remained to be seen if the latest proposals from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) would be sufficient to meet the demands of the WGA leaders.
Residuals and Staffing Size
One of the key points of contention was the issue of residuals. The AMPTP offered a success-based residual, which would be a bonus for streaming shows that reached certain audience thresholds. In contrast, the WGA proposed a viewership-based residual, which would increase based on the number of views, with a “view” defined as someone watching at least half of the program. Additionally, the WGA demanded a minimum staff size for every TV show that would scale up with the number of episodes in a season. The AMPTP argued that staffing decisions should be left up to the showrunner, and not governed by a standardized formula.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Another significant topic that emerged during the negotiation was the use of artificial intelligence (AI). The AMPTP believed that an agreement allowing writers to use AI without impacting their pay or credit was within reach. However, the main sticking point revolved around the WGA‘s demand to prevent AI systems from training on writers’ scripts. If the studios can find a resolution to this issue, it could have implications for SAG-AFTRA as well, which has expressed concerns regarding AI’s impact on actors’ likenesses and the use of AI training.
Analysis and Editorial
This latest round of negotiations between the WGA and the CEOs of major Hollywood studios represents a crucial moment in the ongoing battle for the future of content creation. The strike, which commenced on May 2, has disrupted the industry for almost half a year, impacting not only the livelihoods of writers but also the production and release of countless projects.
The crux of the disagreement revolves around residuals, which have historically been a central aspect of compensation for writers. Residuals ensure that writers continue to receive compensation for their work as it continues to generate revenue, even long after the initial release. However, with the rise of streaming platforms and changes in the way audiences consume content, the traditional distribution models have been upended, calling for new approaches to residual calculations.
Both the AMPTP and the WGA have put forth alternative proposals for residuals – success-based and viewership-based, respectively – reflecting the industry-wide struggle to find a fair and sustainable solution. While it is encouraging that the two sides have engaged in discussions and made progress, the issues at hand are complex, with significant financial implications for both writers and studios.
Moreover, the use of AI in content creation introduces an additional layer of complexity to these negotiations. While AI has the potential to enhance and streamline various creative processes, it also raises concerns about job displacement and the ethical use of writers’ work. Striking a balance that benefits both the industry and the creative professionals involved is undoubtedly a challenging task.
Advice for WGA and AMPTP
In light of the current situation, it is crucial for the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to recognize the importance of finding common ground. The industry is undergoing rapid transformations, driven by technological advancements and shifting audience preferences. A protracted strike only hampers progress and potentially alienates audiences who are hungry for new content.
The WGA should consider the long-term sustainability of their demands and the need for compromise. While it is essential to advocate for fair compensation and working conditions, it is equally vital to maintain a collaborative relationship with the studios that facilitates the creation of high-quality, diverse content.
On the other side, the AMPTP should approach these negotiations with an understanding of the changing landscape of content creation. Studios must recognize the value of writers in the evolving ecosystem and craft proposals that not only address their concerns but also ensure the financial viability of their productions. Embracing innovation and incorporating forward-looking measures to navigate the challenges of the digital age should be a priority.
The continuation of marathon bargaining sessions between the CEOs of major Hollywood studios and the Writers Guild of America offers hope for the resolution of the 143-day strike. The outcomes of these negotiations will shape the future of the industry, affecting the lives of writers, production crews, and audiences alike.
The road to a deal may be long and challenging, requiring compromises from both sides. However, by acknowledging the evolving nature of content creation, valuing the contributions of creative professionals, and embracing the potential of emerging technologies, the WGA and the AMPTP can chart a course towards a more sustainable and prosperous future for the entertainment industry.
<< photo by RDNE Stock project >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.
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