Hollywood studios push back against striking writers' claim of 'gig' workforce


Los Angeles
Writers Guild of America members and supporters picket outside Sunset Bronson Studios and Netflix Studios, after union negotiators called a strike for film and television writers, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 3, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Thursday, the group representing Hollywood studios responded to claims by striking film and television employees that they have been forced into the "gig economy" due to the advent of streaming television.

On Tuesday, approximately 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike, claiming that studios had "created a gig economy inside a union workforce."

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing major studios such as Walt Disney Co and Netflix Inc, stated that writing for movies or television programs in Hollywood "has almost nothing in common with standard 'gig' jobs."

The majority of TV writers, according to the organization, are employed weekly or monthly.

On an episode-by-episode basis, with a guaranteed minimum number of weeks or episodes.

In addition, writing provides "substantial" benefits "far superior to what many full-time employees receive for working an entire year," including healthcare, pension plan contributions, and paid parental leave.

As a result of studios prioritizing streaming over traditional television and cable, writers report working more hours for less pay.

According to the AMPTP, Guild data indicates that the median number of weeks a writer is employed on a streaming series is between 20 and 24, which pays a minimum of $91,000 plus prospective residuals of more than $28,000 for a half-hour script and more than $41,000 for a one-hour script.

Writers note that they must pay their agents and attorneys from their salaries and that they may not find another writing job for the remainder of the year if they are paid for only 24 weeks.

The strike occurs during a difficult period for media companies.

After investing billions in programming to attract subscribers, Wall Street is pressuring conglomerates to make their streaming services profitable.

As traditional TV audiences decline, the advent of streaming has also eroded television ad revenue.

Thursday, Paramount Global, the studio responsible for the successful television series "Yellowstone" and the "Mission: Impossible" films, reported weak earnings from investments in streaming and a soft advertising market. The company's stock dropped 28%.

The strike has halted production of late-night talk programs like "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and could potentially disrupt the fall television season. Drew Barrymore has withdrawn from hosting this Sunday's MTV Movie & TV Awards out of support for the strike.

Barrymore said, "I have listened to the writers, and to truly respect them, I will not host the MTV Movie & TV Awards live in solidarity with the strike."

Next year's awards ceremony is expected to feature previously aired Barrymore segments, and she has consented to host the event.

Publish : 2023-05-05 11:05:00

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