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Hollywood studios offer writers a new deal with push from Netflix, Iger to end strike

Hollywood studios offer writers a new deal with push from Netflix, Iger to end strike
Writers Guild of America members on a picket line outside Netflix Sunset Bronson Studios in Los Angeles, on 11 August 2023.

Hollywood studios have made a new offer to striking screenwriters that includes concessions on issues such as the use of artificial intelligence and access to viewer data, according to people familiar with the discussions. 

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, which represents big media companies such as Warner Bros, Discovery and Paramount Global, has agreed to ensure humans are credited as writers of screenplays, rather than replacing them with artificial intelligence. The companies will also share data on the number of hours viewed on streaming services, so writers can see how popular their programmes are, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations. 

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has emerged as a strong force seeking to reach a deal with the writers, according to the people. More recently Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger has joined him in pressing for an agreement.

The Writers Guild of America, which represents some 11,500 scribes nationally, went on strike 2 May, seeking higher pay and other changes to a contract they said hadn’t kept pace with the rise of streaming TV and other technologies. The strike, coupled with one by screen actors that began in July, has largely shut down production of new films and scripted TV shows.

Read more: Hollywood Strikes Threaten UK’s Film Industry

The guild and the studios met on 11 August, when the new terms were delivered. They’re scheduled to meet again on Tuesday to discuss the union’s response.

Other parts of the offer include a better-than-20% increase in residual payments made to writers when their shows appear on networks other than the original one they were made for. They’ve also proposed salary increases and a minimum duration of work for writers in “mini-rooms”, where a smaller number of scribes work before a show is picked up or renewed.

The studios are offering a 5% hike in base pay in the first year, an increase from their previous 4% offer. The writers have been asking for a 6% raise in the first year of the three-year contract. DM

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