TV Writers Avoid Strike With Eleventh Hour Deal

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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TV execs escaped a potentially back-breaking work stoppage at the eleventh hour Tuesday morning.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) reached an agreement with television and film producers, narrowly avoiding a May 1 deadline for a massive strike that threatened the future of America’s favorite television shows.

“The Writers Guilds of America, West and East and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have concluded negotiations and have reached a tentative agreement on terms for a new three-year collective bargaining agreement,” The WGA said in a statement Tuesday. Details have not yet been released.

The deal marks the end of contentious negotiations between the two sides. Television executives and WGA representatives reportedly negotiated into the early hours of Tuesday in order to avoid a walk-out, according to the Associated Press.

Writers asked for wage increases and additional funding for healthcare and pensions. As viewing patterns and the industry changes with technology, studios are producing more content but fewer episodes per show. TV writers are often hired for a certain number of episodes. Writers asked for a higher wage minimum, in order to make up for fewer episodes.

A strike would have cost the California economy $200 million per week and would have sped up the cord-cutting trend that is decimating the cable television industry, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The WGA is comprised of two separate unions, WGA-East, which represents 3,700 TV and film writers, and WGA-West, which represents over 20,000 TV and film writers based predominantly in the Los Angeles area.

The AMPTP, a trade association based in California, represents 350 American television and film producers.

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 was digital revenue, and the writers were able to win some concessions from the networks.

TV writers earned an average of $194,478 in 2015, and film writers earned an average of $181,267, according to a WGA financial report released in June. Both sides plan to restart negotiations in the coming days.

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