Strike averted in Hollywood as new writers' deal brokered

The Writers Guild of America tentatively agreed a new deal in the early hours of the morning

Strike averted in Hollywood as new writers' deal brokered

Writers on strike during the 100-day action that took place a decade ago [Damian Dovarganes/AP/Press Association Images]

With strike action threatening to shut down the TV branch of Hollywood today, the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Motion Picture & Television Producers reached a tentative new deal in the early hours of the morning.

The new accord means that it will be business as usual, for the most part, in the industry today, with writers’ rooms open for business and already-in-production shows saved from a forced hiatus.

After a week of intense negotiations, the new deal was warmly received on social media, with few involved on either side of the table relishing the idea of entering a strike like the one that took place a decade ago, hobbling Hollywood for 100 days.

Details of the new contract were sparse, with more exact numbers expected to be released later on today. The current ‘Minimum Basic Agreement’, the standard entry contract for all WGA affiliated writers, expired at the turn of midnight, and the union’s balloted members had voted by 96% in favour of strike action.

The union was demanding contract parity for writers working on streaming and on-demand services – which typically hire writers for fewer episodes in a season – to those working on broadcast TV. The union also pressed producers to contribute more to its healthcare fund, which has been operating at a loss for a number of years.

With the ballot authorising a strike last week and with no deal finalised by yesterday, the WGA’s negotiating team reportedly pushed that it was ready and willing to deploy its members in a massive industrial action, with a new deal brokered in the early hours of the morning. Now the guild members on the east and west coasts must ratify the new contract, which will last for three years.

Had strike action taken place today, it would have immediately shut down late-night talk shows and satirical series like Saturday Night Live, programmes which require daily writing schedules. On broadcast television, the current season of scripted TV shows is close to an end, but the strike would have loomed over the so-called ‘Upfronts’ on May 15th, an annual event where TV executives showcase forthcoming programmes to build buzz and sell advertising slots.

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