The Writers Guild of America told members Wednesday that the latest offer from the studios is “not yet good enough,” and said that it would continue to fight to address “existential threats” to the writing profession.
In an email, the WGA picked out half a dozen areas where it believes the studio offer falls short. The guild noted that the studios are willing to enshrine the concept of a TV staff size in the contract for the first time.
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“But the loopholes, limitations, and omissions in their modest proposal, too numerous to single out, make them effectively toothless,” the guild stated.
The guild also said that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers offered to make streaming viewership data available only to a half dozen WGA staffers. The data could then be used by the guild to craft a proposal for a viewership-based residual in three years.
“In the meantime, no writer can be told by the WGA about how well their project is doing, much less receive a residual based on that data,” the guild said.
The AMPTP released its proposals on Tuesday night, shortly after a meeting between several studio CEOs and WGA leadership at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel. The CEOs, including Bob Iger of Disney and David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery, have communicated to the guild that it is past time to end the 115-day writers strike.
By releasing the terms of its latest offer, the AMPTP is seeking to put pressure on guild leadership by demonstrating both to writers and to the broader entertainment community that it is making significant concessions, and that the writers have not responded in kind.
But several writers argued that the AMPTP won’t get anywhere by trying to go around the negotiating committee.
“They think the Neg Comm is the problem. They think there’s this alternate WGA that they need to reach,” said one writer, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “That’s not true. The entire membership are pretty much united. We’re ready to wait it out until we get a good deal.”
Another writer, however, said the terms offered by the AMPTP look “pretty good.”
“For most writers, it looks decent,” the writer said. “The fact that they made a very decent offer shows they’re serious and they want to come to a resolution.”
The strike began on May 2, and negotiations did not resume until Aug. 11, when the studios presented their latest offer. Until now, the two sides have tried to avoid negotiating in the press, though they have never agreed to a formal media blackout.
The tone of the WGA email on Thursday was more muted than the previous message, which accused the AMPTP of trying to “jam” leadership and cause writers to turn against each other.
In the Thursday memo, the guild leaders stated that they told the CEOs that “progress had been made,” but that the AMPTP proposals were still an exercise in “giving with one hand and taking back with the other.”
The AMPTP has proposed a “second step” — that is, a guaranteed rewrite — for original screenplays under a certain income threshold. The WGA said that would help only a “a statistically tiny category of screenwriters.”
The AMPTP has also offered minimum terms for writers on comedy-variety shows in streaming for the first time. The guild noted that would leave behind game show writers and daytime writers.
The AMPTP has offered to make pension and health contributions for each member of a two-person writing team, at the amount they would get if employed as individuals. The WGA noted that would not apply to teams of three or more.
And notably, the WGA acknowledged that there have been “real discussions” and “movement” on the issue of artificial intelligence. The AMPTP has agreed to the guild’s demand that AI-generated material not be considered “literary” or “source” material, which would allow the use of AI material without impacting writers’ pay or credits.
“But we are not yet where we need to be,” the guild stated. “As one example, they continue to refuse to regulate the use of our work to train AI to write new content for a motion picture.”
The WGA also indicated that negotiations will continue.
“The companies’ counteroffer is neither nothing, nor nearly enough,” the guild said. “We will continue to advocate for proposals that fully address our issues rather than accept half measures like those mentioned above and other proposals not listed here.”
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