Accessibility links

Breaking News

US Film and Television Writers Begin Strike

FILE - Writers Guild of America (WGA) writers and others strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in Los Angeles on Nov. 9, 2007.
FILE - Writers Guild of America (WGA) writers and others strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in Los Angeles on Nov. 9, 2007.

The union that represents U.S. film and television writers sent their members on strike Tuesday after failing to reach an agreement with studios and production companies over a new labor contract.

The Writers Guild of America announced late Monday that their 11,500 members would put down their pens and turn off their computers at midnight Los Angeles time ((Tuesday 3:00 a.m. Washington time, 0700 GMT)) when their current contract expires.

The union has been negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for increased pay and stronger employment guarantees on episodic television shows as more and more scripted series are being shown on Internet-based or “streaming” platforms.

In a statement announcing the strike, the WGA said major studios such as Walt Disney and Netflix have “created a gig economy inside a union workforce,” a reference to the growing trend of people taking on freelance jobs as opposed to permanent, full-time work.

Streaming television platforms have transformed the entertainment industry in recent years, offering more opportunities for writers but for lesser pay on shows that run fewer episodes per season than traditional broadcast networks.

Artificial intelligence is another issue for WGA members. The union wants to prevent studios from using AI to create scripts based on writers’ previous work. It also doesn’t want writers to be asked to work on scripts generated by AI.

SEE ALSO: A related video by VOA's Mike O’Sullivan

Artificial Intelligence Can Create, But Lacks Creativity, Say Critics
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:02:41 0:00

The AMPTP issued a statement saying it was prepared to offer higher pay and better royalty payments for writers for streaming shows, but that it was “unwilling to do so because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table.” The alliance says a major point of contention is a union proposal for a show to maintain a certain number of staff writers “whether needed or not.”

The strike is the first by the WGA in 15 years. The last walkout began in late 2007 and stretched 100 days into the next year, costing the California economy an estimated $2.1 billion. Late night talk and variety shows such as “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and “Saturday Night Live” will go off the air immediately as their writing staffs are members of the WGA.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

  • 16x9 Image

    VOA News

    The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of over 326 million people. Stories with the VOA News byline are the work of multiple VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.