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Writers Guild Talks Continue as Negotiation Deadline Nears

Published on April 12th, 2017 | Updated on April 13th, 2017 | By FanFest

Contract discussions are continuing between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance for Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) as the deadline looms for the end of negotiations.

According to Variety, it seems like talks are inching towards an agreement of some sort as the negotiation period ends ahead of the authorization strike voted April 18-24 and the contract’s expiration on May 1. One of the issues on the table is compensation for low and mid-level writers working on series that fall short of the traditional 22-episode season. The situation is complicated with the changing models for shorter TV seasons and the scale at which compensation works per episode. According to the article, “[t]he WGA proposal calls for studios to pay writers the weekly equivalent of their negotiated episodic fee for each week that the writer is engaged beyond the standard two weeks per episode.”

Discussions regarding health benefits have also been mentioned on the Writers Guild of America West site.

Why is this a big deal? For those TV fans that can remember about 10 years back similar talks happened and inevitably broke down to the the point that a writer’s strike occurred. That strike, which lasted 100 days, had a profound effect on the industry as millions of dollars in ad revenue and production were lost. It was also a period of time where reruns and reality TV dominated programming.

What does this mean for TV fans? If the AMPTP and the Writers Guild can’t come to some sort of compromise by Friday, then the strike authorization goes out to Writers Guild members to vote on. If the Guild gets authorization and there is no further movement towards agreement by the contract expiration on May 1, then writers begin strike on May 2. That means not a single word written by writers during the strike time.

For many regular season shows, that doesn’t mean much…for right now. If there’s no agreement by mid-June or July, when many writers report to their respective writers rooms to begin arcing out the following season, production timelines fall behind and essentially stop. That means dark times for TV fans: potential reruns and a longer summer hiatus.

What do both parties need to do? From the production aspect, there is a certain level of compromise needed to continue acclimating to the changing TV structure and that means compensation takes center stage, much like it did back in 2008 with the proceeds of online streaming.

With the conversation still ongoing, only time will tell what the outcome will be by the end of it and if a strike will be authorized by guild members.

Stay tuned for any updates.

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