After reaching a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP), the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has announced an end to their nearly five-month-long strike, as well as released terms of their tentative agreement.
Writers Guild of America Strike Ending
The strike end time was announced by WGA West on X (formerly known as Twitter), after their Negotiating Committee, WGAW Board, and WGAE Council all voted to recommend the agreement with the AMPTP.
The strike will end at 12:01 a.m. on September 27, 2023.
The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May 2, 2023. Now that a tentative agreement is in place, it’s up to the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) to return to talks and end their strike — which has been going on since July 14, 2023. Theirs is the first industry-wide strike by the performers guild in more than 40 years.
WGA-AMPTP Tentative Agreement Terms
A summary of the tentative agreement terms for the 2023 Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) were released by the Writers Guild of America on their contract website, and include the following tenets:
Term of Agreement
The agreement will be in place from September 25, 2023 through May 1, 2026.
Most MBA minimums will increase by 5 percent on ratification of the agreement, 4 percent on May 2, 2024, and 3.5 percent on May 2, 2025. Some minimums and rates increase less, mostly by 3 percent each year, while a few rates will only increase once or will not increase over the duration of the contract.
Increased Health and Pension Contribution Rate
Contributions on reportable earnings for the Health Fund will increase 0.5 percent in the second year of the contract, from 11.5 percent to 12 percent. The WGA has the right to divert an extra 0.5 percent in each of the second and third years of the deal from various minimum increases to either the Health Fund, or the Pension Plan.
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 for Screenwriter Employment
- Guaranteed 2nd step: A second step is required whenever a writer is hired for a first draft screenplay for 200 percent of minimum or less, including original and non-original screenplays. The requirement also applies to spec purchases.
- Accelerated payment structure for flat deals: Screenwriters hired on a flat deal basis for 200 percent of minimum or less must be paid 50 percent of their fee on commencement. If the writer has not delivered within 9 weeks of commencement, 25 percent of the fee is payable upon invoice. The final 25 percent is due on delivery of the step.
- Streaming features: When a feature-length project is made for streaming with a budget of $30 million or more, the minimum initial compensation for a story & teleplay is $100,000 (an 18 percent increase from the current rate) and a 26 percent increase in the residual base. Combined with the foreign residual improvements described below, this results in a 3-year residual of $216,000 for projects on the largest services, a 49 percent increase from $144,993 under the 2020 MBA.
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.
Minimum Terms for Advertising-Supported Streaming
High-budget programs made for ad-supported streaming services (including FAST) get the same initial compensation terms as the equivalent programs made for subscription streaming services, including network primetime script fees for the highest-budget series, as well as protections like span (using the basic cable span cap of $375,000) and premium rates for pilots and backup scripts. These programs will also receive a 2 percent residual for reuse on the AVOD service.
Increased Compensation for Series Employment
- Weekly Pay Increases: The minimum weekly rates for staff writers and Article 14 writers (story editors/executive story editors) will increase by the overall minimum increases (5 percent – 4 percent – 3.5 percent). The increases for staff writers go into effect immediately; and those for story editors/executive story editors go into effect the Sunday after ratification.
- Writer-Producer Weekly Rates: There will be a new writer-producer tier (co-producer level and above) that has a higher minimum weekly rate, amounting to a 9.5 percent premium over the story editor/executive story editor rate. These rates will go into effect for new seasons that start 60 days after ratification.
|Term of Employment||Year 1|
|Up to 9 weeks||$11,371|
- Development room premiums: Writers of any title working in pre-greenlight rooms of at least 3 writers—including a pre-greenlight room between seasons of a show—will be paid premium rates up to guarantees of 19 weeks. If writers are guaranteed 20 weeks or more the premium doesn’t apply. The development room rates will be 25 percent above the highest regular room rate. These rates will go into effect for new contracts beginning November 1, 2023 assuming ratification in October.
|Story Editor/Executive Story Editor||$12,978|
- Staff Writer Script Fees: Staff writers must be paid script fees for the episodes they write.
Staffing and Duration Provisions for Episodic Series
Development rooms (aka pre-greenlight rooms) and regular writers’ rooms for television and HBSVOD series will now have requirements regarding the minimum number of writers who must be hired and the duration of their employment. These new provisions go into effect for seasons where the first episode is written after December 1, 2023 assuming ratification in October.
- Development rooms: Once 3 writers are convened before a series order, at least 3 writer-producers (including the showrunner) are guaranteed 10 consecutive weeks of employment.
Development rooms where writers are guaranteed 20 weeks of work or more are treated as post-greenlight rooms. For these rooms on first season shows, the minimum staff size required will be 3 writer-producers (including the showrunner). For these rooms in the second or subsequent season of a show the required minimum number of writers is determined by the anticipated episode order.
- Post-greenlight rooms: The following requirements are triggered depending on the number of episodes ordered, unless a single writer is engaged to write all episodes:
|# of Episodes||Minimum # of Writers in Writers’ Room||Minimum # of Writer-Producers in Writers’ Room|
|6 or fewer||3||3|
The minimum staff must be guaranteed at least 20 weeks or the entire duration of the post-greenlight room, whichever is shorter. If there was a development room, the two writer-producers who worked in the development room must be hired for the writers’ room. Weeks worked in the development room can be credited against the guaranteed weeks in the writers’ room, but development room compensation cannot be credited.
- Writers in Production: For single-camera series made for HBSVOD and Pay TV that are exclusively filmed in the US and Canada, 2 writer-producers must be employed for the lesser of 20 weeks of production or the duration of production along with the showrunner. The two writer positions can be used for more than two writers provided that the total weeks worked by the additional writers adds up to the minimum required number for each position.
Improved Options, Exclusivity, and Span Protections
- The salary limit under which options & exclusivity protections apply will increase from $325,000 to $350,000 as of May 2, 2024.
- Span protections will be expanded to cover more writers working on short orders, by increasing the cap on earnings from $400,000 to $450,000 (Basic Cable remaining at $375,000), and by extending span protection to writers on limited series, for contracts made 30 days after the ratification date.
Appendix A Series Made for Subscription Streaming Services
- Comedy-Variety, Quiz & Audience, or Other Non-Dramatic programs with budgets at or above $600,000 for a half-hour or $1.15 million for a one-hour show that are made for subscription streaming services will have weekly initial compensation minimums like television. Projects with four episodes per week have lower breaks; for instance, Comedy-Variety strip shows have budget breaks of $150,000 for 30-minute show, $250,000 for 60-minute.
- Comedy-Variety series employment will get the aggregate minimum compensation in addition to weekly minimums. Comedy-Variety series with 13 programs will get 13-week guarantees; shorter orders may have shorter guarantees by applying for a Guild waiver. Quiz & Audience and Other Non-Dramatic series have weekly minimums, though 13-week guarantees are not required.
- The Guild has the right to negotiate initial compensation terms and residuals for existing Daytime Serials that move to subscription streaming services in the same fashion as it negotiates for Appendix A and low budget dramatic shows on Basic Cable.
- All high budget Appendix A programs will receive a residual of 1.2 percent of the license fee for use after the first 26 weeks.
Showrunner Training Program
An agreement was reached to renew $250,000 in annual funding for the Showrunner Training Program.
An agreement was reached to replace three arbitrators on the panel to hear MBA claims in Los Angeles.
Tri-Guild Audit Program
Funding was renewed for Tri-Guild auditing of residual payments for the term of the agreement.
Other Changes (Company Proposals)
- Agreed to increase the number of episodes on new made for broadcast series that can get a single free “promotional” run from 2 to 3, but with the number of episodes capped at no more than 25 percent of the season;
- Agreed that the companies can exhibit a longform program made for HBSVOD in theaters for not more than 8 days, at least 40 days after the program’s release on the original streaming platform, for 3 percent of accountable receipts;
- Agreed to a 3 percent increase in the thresholds for payment of the 1.2 percent residual for foreign free television reuse;
- Agreed to allow a company to credit a sole writer/director or writer/producer of a project as “produced by” or “presented by” in publicity releases or advertising without a separate writing credit;
- Agreed that interest isn’t due when writers haven’t provided the information necessary to process payment.
Are you excited to see the Writers Guild of America strike finally come to an end? What do you think about the terms of their tentative deal? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.