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The Industry
People with signs supporting the Writers' Guild strike

Image credit: Ringo Chiu / Shutterstock

The Writers Guild of America said its members will be returning to work after three year contract agreed

Published: 29th September 2023

The writers’ strike officially ended in the United States on Wednesday 27 September 2023 following a deal made between the writers’ union and producers. 

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) have been in legal dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) since the beginning of May.

Matters such as pay and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the industry have been at the heart of the debate, with the wider effects of the strikes felt throughout the industry.

The deal, which was made public on Tuesday, has been celebrated by the WGA as, “Exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.” 

What Has Been Agreed?

12.5% Raise Over Three Years

Originally, the WGA asked for a 16% raise for their members over three years. The AMPTP have now agreed on a 12.5% pay increase for writers, starting with 5% once the contract is ratified. The writers will then receive 4% and 3.5% increase respectively for the following two years.

Improved Streaming Residuals

There has been a significant increase in the contractual fees writers will receive from streaming services for made-for-streaming titles, with a 76% increase in foreign streaming residuals. 

A viewership-based streaming bonus has also been agreed, which will be between $9,000 and $40,500 depending on whether the streaming feature had a budget over $30 million and the length of the show. This will also be coupled with more transparency on the viewership numbers of these shows, with the AMPTP agreeing to share the total number of domestic and international streaming hours as long as they remain confidential.

New AI Laws

Concise legal guidelines have now been introduced regarding the use of generative AI in the creative process. AI is not allowed to write or rewrite any literary material, and AI-generated material cannot be considered source material.

“AI-generated material can’t be used to undermine a writer’s credit or separated rights,” the contract states. Writers have been given the choice to use AI to create, but the production company cannot make it a legal requirement that they do so. 

If a studio provides writers with material, they must inform them if it is AI-generated or contain AI-generated material. Using a writer’s material to train AI is also prohibited by MBA or other law. 

Minimum Number of Writers for Series

Depending on the length of a TV series, there are now regulations in place for a minimum number of writers to be part of the development process. For example, anything that runs for longer than 13 episodes must house at least six writers.

What Happens Next?

As of Tuesday evening, when the deal was announced, members of the Writers Guild of America were allowed to return to work. However, although the writers’ strike has ended, TV and film productions won’t resume as normal as the SAG-AFTRA actors strike is still underway.

Production and release schedules have also been affected by the strike. A meeting between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP will take place on Monday 2 October 2023.

Members of the WGA will vote on whether to accept the deal with the AMPTP between 2-9 October 2023.