Hollywood authors strike over pay in streaming television ‘gig economy’

LOS ANGELES, May 2 (Reuters) – Hollywood movie and tv authors went on strike on Tuesday, closing down late-night television programs, and took their needs for greater pay to the doors of significant studios in a labor disagreement that depends upon how the streaming boom is altering program organization.

Numerous members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) picketed in New York and Los Angeles in the very first work interruption to strike Hollywood in 15 years.

“We are requesting extremely reasonable settlement, and essentially the studios made fun of us,” author Daniel Talbott, 45, stated as guild members opposed outside the Paramount (PARA.O) movie studio in Hollywood, among more than a lots picket websites. “We are attempting to eliminate for our rights.”

A group representing Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and other studios stated it had actually used “generous” settlement however the sides were not able reach a contract in last-minute talks on Monday.

Some stars ended up to back the 11,500 striking authors.

“I support the authors due to the fact that as stars we are just as great as the writing we get,” stated Rob Lowe, who was picketing with his kid, author and star John Owen Lowe.

In New York, WGA members marched and shouted “No authors. No television” outside a structure where Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) streaming service Peacock was holding a discussion for marketers.

Writers got innovative with their picket indications. One read “What would Larry David do?” while another threatened “Pay your authors or we’ll ruin ‘Succession.'”

“Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and other late-night programs canceled brand-new episodes and were set to air re-runs after being left without their groups of authors to pen prompt jokes.

Sketch program “Saturday Night Live” likewise closed down forever.

On Monday night, the WGA stated its management all supported a strike versus the studios. “The business’ habits has actually developed a gig economy inside a union labor force,” the WGA stated in a declaration.

The guild is looking for modifications in pay and the solutions utilized to compensate authors when their work is streamed, to name a few propositions. The WGA approximated its modifications would cost about $429 million a year, according to a settlements summary shared on Twitter and validated by Reuters as genuine.


The strike hits Hollywood studios at a hard time. Corporations are under pressure from Wall Street to make their streaming services lucrative after pumping billions of dollars into programs to draw in customers.

Members of the Writers Guild of America demonstration in Los Angeles

[1/7]Employees and advocates of the Writers Guild of America demonstration outside the Netflix workplaces after union arbitrators called a strike for movie and tv authors in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 2, 2023. REUTERS/Aude Guerrucci

The increase of streaming has actually deteriorated tv advertisement profits as conventional television audiences diminish.

The last WGA strike in 2007 and 2008 lasted 100 days. It cost the California economy an approximated $2.1 billion as productions closed down and out-of-work authors, stars and manufacturers cut down costs.

California Governor Gavin Newsom stated the existing strike would have “extensive effects, direct and indirect.”

“We’re extremely worried about what’s going on since both sides are dug in and the stakes are high,” the Democratic guv stated at a Milken Institute conference.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studios, stated it had actually proposed “generous boosts in settlement” and wanted to increase its deal.

It stated it objected to WGA needs that “would need a business to personnel a program with a particular number of authors for a specific duration of time, whether required or not.”

In Washington, the White House motivated “both sides to remain at the table,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated.

Writers stated they wanted to stroll off the task since modifications from streaming have actually made it tough for numerous to earn money in pricey cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

Half of television series authors now operate at minimum income levels, compared to a 3rd in the 2013-14 season, according to WGA stats. Typical spend for scribes at the greater writer/producer level has actually fallen 4% over the last years.

Expert system (AI) is another concern at the bargaining table.

The WGA desires safeguards to avoid studios from utilizing AI to produce brand-new scripts from authors’ previous work, or asking to reword drafts developed by AI.

Tv production ground to a stop in Los Angeles. Movie LA, which releases authorizations for recording in the city, stated it had no aim for scripted programs arranged for Tuesday or the remainder of the week.

The one late-night program set to run brand-new episodes was Fox News’s “Gutfeld!” which uses non-union authors.

If the work blockage ends up being drawn-out, the networks will progressively fill programs lineups with unscripted truth programs, news publications and reruns. It likewise might postpone the critical fall television season for which composing for programs generally begins in May or June.

Netflix might be insulated from any instant effect since of its international focus and access to non-U.S. production centers.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *