A potential writers strike threatens the current era of “peak television” as Hollywood agents prepare for a walkout.
“We’re hearing Hollywood agents far and wide are bracing for another writers’ strike,” a New York Post report said Saturday. News that industry insiders are bracing for disruption comes just weeks after a Deadline report said that union members seemed ready to strike come May.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is comprised of two separate unions, the WGA-East, which represents 3,700 TV and film writers east of the Mississippi River, and WGA-West, which represents over 20,000 TV and film writers, based predominantly in the Los Angeles area.
Writers went on strike ten years ago, in November, 2007, which disrupted television production, and resulted in revenue loss for the television networks. The central issue underpinning the strike at the time was digital revenue and the writers were able to win over some concessions from the networks.
A potential strike could disrupt television series set to premier in May, since the industry presently faces an era of “peak television,” according to FX research.
Four-hundred-fifty-five scripted, original programs aired on American television in 2016, an all-time record. Barring a strike, that number is expected to rise again in 2017.
The Guild’s top priorities are to increase compensation for series TV writer-producers, to stop a “decades-long decline in screenwriters’ earnings” and to “stabilize its ailing health fund,” according to Deadline.
“The Writers Guilds of America, West and East, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced they will begin formal contract negotiations March 13. The current Minimum Basic Agreement expires May 1,” the union said.
The potential strike has not made news around the award shows, but as the March 13 date approaches, both sides may start to take their fight into the public eye.
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