Hollywood screenwriters on Tuesday unanimously approved the start of their first major strike in 15 years to achieve better working conditions. This was announced by the WGA union, which brings together more than 11,500 writers who are behind every movie or television series episode in America.
The union said the move comes after six weeks of unsuccessful negotiations over new contracts and wage increases with representatives from Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros., NBC Universal, Sony, and Apple TV.
“We have not reached an agreement with the studios and streaming platforms,” the WGA told AFP.
In this context, screenwriters complain that the rise of streaming services has negatively affected their profession and they are working longer hours for less pay. Also, with the revolution in artificial intelligence programs, they are looking for safeguards to prevent studios from using that technology to create new scripts from writers’ past work.
For its part, the Alliance of Film and Television Producers, the negotiating body on behalf of the major studios, argued that they should reduce costs due to economic pressures.
The strike could have potentially devastating effects on the American entertainment industry. The last time a similar strike took place between 2007 and 2008 lasted for one hundred days. Television networks aired reruns and more ‘reality shows’, while the damage to the California state economy was estimated at $2.1 billion.
Late-night TV shows such as ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’, ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’ or ‘Saturday Night Live’, which use teams of writers to create topical jokes, may require an immediate production shutdown. Hopefully, because screenwriters are banned from working on any television or film projects.
On the other hand, streaming platforms such as Netflix can survive the initial shock by providing access to foreign-language shows and productions from outside the United States. However, if the strike continues, it could delay the start of the fall TV season.