Following a meeting with leaders of the Writers Guild of America, Hollywood CEOs released the details on Tuesday of their most recent proposal, offering concessions around writers room minimums, AI and viewership data. But the WGA leadership immediately responded with a scathing rejection of the proposal.
“Our priority is to end the strike so that valued members of the creative community can return to what they do best and to end the hardships that so many people and businesses that service the industry are experiencing,” said Carol Lombardini, President of the AMPTP, in a statement.
The WGA responded: “This wasn’t a meeting to make a deal. This was a meeting to get us to cave, which is why, not 20 minutes after we left the meeting, the AMPTP released its summary of their proposals.”
The response and counter-response dashes hopes that the quiet over the past week, while talks went on, would lead to a resolution of the strike that is now past 113 days. The meeting included Disney CEO Bob Iger, Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav, and Lombardini.
The details come from the proposal AMPTP presented to the guild on Aug. 11, prior to the resumption of daily contract negotiations.
As writers and actors continue to strike, the details of the proposal show some notable changes from the studios’ previous offers and stances on some key issues.
When the WGA and AMPTP broke off talks in May the AMPTP only offered an annual meeting with the guild to discuss developments in how AI was being used in the industry, with no meaningful offers on how the technology would be regulated.
While there are no details on how WGA-covered material would be used in training AI software, AMPTP’s latest proposal bans content produced by generative AI from being considered “literary material” and includes guarantees that writers’ “compensation, credit and separated rights will not be affected by the use of GAI-produced material.”
For the key issue of writer employment, the studios’ offer guarantees at least 10 weeks of employment for all writers, with a weekly rate increase of 43% for writer-producers to $14,214/week. Rates for staff writers and story editors will increase by 31% to $6,959/week for staff writers and $12,978/week for story editors.
The AMPTP is also offering to make viewership data available to the WGA for the first time in the form of “quarterly confidential reports” that will include the total amount of hours viewed for each streaming title. The AMPTP says that this data will “enable the WGA to develop proposals to restructure the current SVOD residual regime in the future.”
This offer is a major concession from the studios, which for years have kept viewership numbers secret from even the creators of films and TV shows. Netflix in particular has drawn the ire of Hollywood’s creatives for this practice, with animation showrunners accusing the streamer in interviews with TheWrap last year of selectively using data to justify decisions regarding cancellation and renewal of their shows.
While this proposal — first sent nearly two weeks ago — has triggered renewed talks, insiders say that the process has remained slow and “very fluid” even as the WGA informed members in a memo last Friday that talks were set to continue this week.
The proposal as-released also leaves out a key concern for the WGA, specifically in its offer to allow showrunners to select two “mid-level writers” — i.e. writer-producers — to be assigned to production and be guaranteed 20 weeks of employment.
Since the strike began, WGA negotiating committee and rank-and-file members have voiced their concerns about the rise of “mini-rooms,” which hire less experienced writers to write scripts before a show is greenlit and then do not keep them hired for production.
This prohibits those younger writers from gaining experience with the TV production process. It is unclear whether this proposal as stands would ensure that those younger writers, many of whom do not have experience as writer-producers, continued opportunities to be involved in production.
While the talks continue, the release of the proposal was met with disdain from WGA members on social media, many of whom saw it as a violation of the media blackout that the guild’s own negotiating committee has adhered to since talks resumed and as an effort to divide the guild’s membership.
“Not only are these proposals still inadequate, they are an attempt by the bosses to divide our members, hoping we’ll start arguing with each other over which parts we can and can’t live with. Don’t fall for it,” WGA West board member David Slack posted on X (formerly known as Twitter).
An individual with knowledge of Tuesday’s meeting says the AMPTP notified the WGA in advance that it would publicly release its proposal.
Topline details on the AMPTP’s proposal can be read below, and the full six-page proposal can be read here:
- A compounded 13% increase over the three-year contract, with an increase of 5% in year one; 4% in year two; and 3.5% in year three.
- A 15% increase in minimum weekly rates for Article 14 writers
(other than Story Editors or Executive Story Editors) in the first year of the agreement with further general wage increases in the second and third years of the agreement.
- And increase residuals from $72,067 to $87,546 per episode for 3 exhibition years.
- Showrunners would be permitted “to select at least two mid-level writers to be assigned to production who are each guaranteed at least 20 weeks of employment (unless the production period is shorter).”
- A guaranteed minimum of 10 weeks of employment and a 43% increase in week-t0-week pay for for Article 14 writers (other than Story Editors or Executive Story Editors). According to AMPTP, this would be a raise from $9,888 per week to $14,214.
- Content produced by so-called “artificial intelligence” software “will not be considered literary material,” and if any part of a script is based on such content, “the writer’s compensation, credit and separated rights will not be affected.”
- AMPTP says that for the first time, it will share viewership data with WGA members “in the form of quarterly confidential reports… that will include total SVOD view hours per title.” AMPTP’s proposal adds that the data could be used by the guild to “restructure” residuals “in the future.”
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