Hollywood Studios Weigh In, Say WGA Proposals Are ‘Incompatible With the Creative Nature of Our Industry’

AMPTP releases a lengthy statement on the sticking points of the writers strike

WGA AMPTP Guild talks start
(Credit: Christopher Smith for TheWrap)

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which serves as labor representatives for Hollywood’s studios, released a statement breaking down its stance on the various sticking points that caused a deal with the Writers Guild of America to fall apart.

In a four-page document that can be read here, the AMPTP addressed several issues that were raised by the WGA in their pattern of demands, most notably the guild’s proposal for a minimum of six writers on all TV productions with more required depending on the number of episodes.

“If writing needs to be done, writers are hired, but these proposals require the employment of writers whether they’re needed for the creative process or not,” the AMPTP said in the document. “While the WGA has argued that the proposal is necessary to ‘preserv[e] the writers’ room,’ it is in reality a hiring quota that is incompatible with the creative nature of our industry.”

“We don’t agree with applying a one-size-fits-all solution to shows that are unique and different in their approach to creative staffing,” the statement continues. “Some writers are the sole voice of a show and others work with only a small team. The WGA’s proposals would preclude that.”

The AMPTP also addressed the issue of artificial intelligence in writing. While the previous labor contract between the Writers Guild and studios forbade the use of scripts directly written by AI, the WGA pushed for more stringent regulations on the use of AI software in writing, including banning the use of AI-generated writing as credited source material to adapt from.

Members of the guild negotiating committee have told TheWrap that the AMPTP only agreed to meet annually to discuss the use of AI in Hollywood rather than implement any hard rules into the labor contract.

“AI raises hard, important creative and legal questions for everyone. For example, writers want to be
able to use this technology as part of their creative process, without changing how credits are determined, which is complicated given AI material can’t be copyrighted,” the AMPTP wrote. “It’s something that requires a lot more discussion, which we’ve committed to doing.”

The studios also pushed back on what the WGA leadership wrote in its email to members announcing the start of the strike, saying that a work stoppage was necessary to prevent the profession of writing from becoming “a gig economy in a union workplace.” The AMPTP argued in the document that writing jobs have “almost nothing in common” with gig jobs like rideshare and delivery apps, pointing to WGA released data that shows that a staff writer employed on a streaming show for 20-24 weeks — the median number according to the guild — can earn between $91,000 and $109,000 in wages.

“For one thing, most television writers are employed on a weekly or episodic basis, with a guarantee of a specified number of weeks or episodes. It’s not uncommon for writers to be guaranteed ‘all episodes produced,’” the AMPTP said.

“Plus, writing jobs come with substantial fringe benefits that are far superior to what many full-time
employees receive for working an entire year, including employer-paid health care, employer-paid contributions into a pension plan and eligibility for a paid parental leave program,” the document continued.

The Writers Guild of America in its proposal sought annual minimum rate increases of 6% in the first year of the new contract, followed by 5% in each of the next two years. The AMPTP has proposed annual increases of 4%, 3% and then 2%, which the studios argue is still the “highest first-year increase offered to the WGA in more than 25 years.”

The AMPTP is now moving on to negotiations with the Directors Guild of America, which is set to begin talks next week. In a social media statement, the DGA says that residual payments for streaming services will be a critical demand in its negotiations, particularly for streaming use outside of the United States.