BREAKING: Writers Guild of America Members Ratify Three-Year Deal with Studios

Kyle Silagyi

Updated on:

BREAKING: Writers Guild of America Members Ratify Three-Year Deal with Studios

Members of the Writers Guild of America have ratified their new three-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. According to Deadline, just over 8,500 votes were cast throughout the week-long voting process, with 8,435 members — or 98.9% of all votes cast — voting in favor of the new deal’s ratification.

Writers Guild of America Ratifies New Deal

Writers Guild of America Strike Authorization Vote April 2023

WGA members first went on strike in May after formally voting to strike in April. The union reached a tentative deal with production studios (represented by AMPTP) on September 24, and the WGA announced the end of its five-month strike on September 26.

The new contract will expire on May 2, 2026. The full terms of the agreement have been posted on the official WGA website.

Studio use of artificial intelligence and writer residuals, particularly from streaming programs, were two of the most talked about elements of the negotiations. The now-ratified terms as they relate to AI use and residuals are:

Artificial Intelligence

The following regulations have been established regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI) on MBA-covered projects:

  • AI cannot write or rewrite literary material, and AI-generated material will not be considered “source material” under the agreement. This means that AI-generated material can’t be used to undermine a writer’s credit or separated rights.
  • A writer can choose to use AI when performing writing services, if the company consents and the writer follows applicable company policies. However, the company cannot require the writer to use AI software, like ChatGPT, when performing writing services.
  • Companies must disclose to writers if any materials given to them are AI-generated or incorporate AI-generated material.
  • The WGA reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by MBA or other law.

Improved Terms in High Budget Subscription Video on Demand

  • Increased foreign streaming residuals: Foreign streaming residuals will now be based on the streaming service’s number of foreign subscribers for services available globally, amounting to a 76 percent increase (including a 2.5 percent base increase) to the foreign residual for the services with the largest global subscriber bases over 3 years. For instance, Netflix’s 3-year foreign residual will increase from the current $18,684 for a one-hour episode to $32,830.
  • Viewership-based streaming bonus: The Guild negotiated a new residual based on viewership. Made-for HBSVOD series and films that are viewed by 20 percent or more of the service’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days of release, or in the first 90 days in any subsequent exhibition year, get a bonus equal to 50 percent of the fixed domestic and foreign residual, with views calculated as hours streamed domestically of the season or film divided by runtime. For instance, projects written under the new MBA on the largest streaming services would receive a bonus of $9,031 for a half-hour episode, $16,415 for a one-hour episode, or $40,500 for a streaming feature over $30 million in budget. This bonus structure will take effect for projects released on or after January 1, 2024.
  • Streaming Data Transparency: The Companies agree to provide the Guild, subject to a confidentiality agreement, the total number of hours streamed, both domestically and internationally, of self-produced high budget streaming programs (e.g., a Netflix original series). The Guild may share information with the membership in aggregated form.
  • Premium for Pilot & Backup Scripts: 150 percent pilot premium and 115 percent backup script premiums will now apply to programs made for HBSVOD.

The SAG-AFTRA (screen actors) strike remains ongoing at this time. In a letter to WGA members published on the official WGA website after the ratification of the contract, WGA Presidents Meredith Stiehm and Lisa Takeuchi Cullen called on “the AMPTP to negotiate a deal that addresses the needs of performers” and asked able and willing WGA members “to continue to show up on their picket lines in solidarity.”

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