Studios Offer Streaming Data, Writers’ Room Latitude in New Proposal to WGA

AMPTP and the writers guild resumed contract talks on Friday, though the strike continues

In its most recent proposal to the Writers Guild of America, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers offered some concessions on the top issues leading to a strike, including so-called artificial intelligence, staffing, and data on streaming service viewership, TheWrap has learned.

Among them, the studios have offered to let writers in on how many people actually watch streaming shows. This is an attempt to address one of the most contentious issues that led to the ongoing strike.

The proposal was presented to WGA negotiators on Friday. The WGA is expected to respond to the proposal this week.

WGA, like SAG-AFTRA, which is also on strike, has identified the extremely low residuals members earn from streaming shows as a serious problem. The writers guild wants access to streaming data as part of the push to raise residual payments.

However, in its proposal, AMPTP did not tie compensation to viewership data. This may be because the group is looking ahead to restart negotiations with SAG-AFTRA should current talks with WGA prove successful. The actors guild has proposed a revenue-sharing scheme based on viewership on streaming platforms as a means of addressing the problem with small residuals.

The studios also offered to let showrunners have greater authority to set staffing size on shows. This comes in response to WGA concerns about increasingly shaky job security for writers, which the guild has repeatedly described as a “gig economy” environment.

One big concern has been so-called “mini-rooms,” a practice in which a television creator assembles a writers’ room to create scripts for an entire season before the show has even been greenlit, with the writers being paid out of pocket and usually at-scale. The practice is especially common on streaming services, which often sidestep the pilot process and go straight to a series order, but guild members say the result is that writers are vastly underpaid compared to shows produced under the once-standard TV model.

WGA wants to establish minimum staffing levels on all new shows, something studios have resisted, pointing to shows like the HBO hit “The White Lotus,” which was entirely written by the show’s creator, Mike White.

Like SAG-AFTRA, WGA has also been highly concerned about the technology popularly known as “artificial intelligence.” The guild wants a guarantee that AI will never be used to replace the labor of writers or dilute credit.

In its new proposal, AMPTP proposed stricter regulations on the technology, though the precise details are unknown at this time.

WGA went on strike May 2, after attempts to resolve these issues failed amid what the guild has described as “gaslighting” from AMPTP. After an abortive attempt to restart talks on Aug. 4. The groups met again on Aug. 11 at which time talks formally resumed.

“Your Negotiating Committee received a counterproposal from the AMPTP today,” the WGA said in a memo to its members on after the meeting ended. “We will evaluate their offer and, after deliberation, go back to them with the WGA’s response next week.”

Representatives for AMPTP declined to comment. Representatives for WGA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

Bloomberg first reported the new studio offer.

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