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Internet TV Changes the Game

The AP reports that Writers say 'Peak TV' has hurt them; strike authorization vote April 19th

Posted on
Apr 12, 2017

As technology changes, so too does the Television and Movie industry.  A decade ago, writers struck over residuals from on demand and internet streaming.  Now, writers say that while there has been an increase in the amount of shows on TV, Netflix, Amazon and other platforms, seasons are shorter and their wages are slipping.  These conditions could lead to another costly strike, as was seen as decade ago when their contract runs out on May 1.  Read more from the Associated Press below.

So-called "Peak TV" and its expansive array of series has been great for viewers, say Hollywood scribes, but not so much for writers. On Monday, the Writers Guild of America will resume negotiations over a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents broadcast and cable networks and movie studios.

With the WGA moving to authorize a strike, Hollywood is hoping to avoid a crippling work stoppage like the 100-day strike of 2007 that put prime-time TV into reruns and blockbuster movies on hold.

Several issues are on the table but the most prominent point of debate revolves around the changing nature of the television landscape.

That there are more series than ever - 455 this season, more than double the number six years ago - may seem like a plus for TV writers. But those shows also run for fewer episodes than the traditional 22-24 episode broadcast series. Short seasons of 8, 10 or 12 episodes means less pay for writers whose payment is structured on a per-episode basis.

"Nowadays, two-thirds of all shows including some on broadcast, are produced with fewer episodes but we're still paid episodic fees," says Chris Keyser, a veteran writer and WGA negotiating committee co-chair. "I, for example, have a show on Amazon. And I will work for about the same amount of time as I used to work, almost a year, for eight episodic fees. So I am working for a fraction of what I used to work for, even though the companies are making double what they used to make - and I am not alone."

Five days of bargaining are scheduled to begin Monday after an initial two weeks of talks ended with an impasse and an offer rejected by the guild. The WGA negotiating committee recommended a strike authorization vote, which the guild board and council both seconded. If no settlement is reached, Guild members will begin voting on whether to give their bargainers the authorization to strike on April 19. The current three-year contract expires May 1.

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