Hollywood Writers Strike – Issues Over Pay And Artificial Intelligence

Hollywood writers have gone on strike for the first time in 15 years after failing to secure an agreement for higher pay.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has called for a strike after they failed to reach an improved agreement with studios such as Netflix and Walt Disney. The last strike happened in 2007/08 and lasted 100 days, with an estimated cost of over $2b to the industry. Approximately 11,500 writers are represented by WGA, with picketing due to begin outside of Hollywood studios.

A WGA statement pointed to the act of scriptwriting not gaining the recognition or protection it deserves.

It read: “The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing.”

The Alliance of Motion Picture Producers (AMPTP) stated that it offered a “generous” increase to the writers affected, but they failed to reach an agreement.

One of the key issues is thought to be based on the staffing of shows for a specified time period (whether those writers are needed for that timespan or not). The WGA also wants to safeguard their clients from artificial intelligence, with the fear of studios using AI to generate new scripts based on a writer’s past work. The WGA believes that the studios’ response has “been wholly insufficient, given the existential crisis writers are facing.”

“The companies have broken this business. They have taken so much from the very people, the writers, who have made them wealthy,” the WGA added. It is thought that the disruption to programming will begin immediately.

According to the guild, half of TV series writers are working at minimum salary levels, compared to just a third in the 2013-14 season.