Negotiations Continue as Writers' Strike Looms

Posted on April 27, 2017

In a conference call with analysts this morning NBCUniversal head Steve Burke addressed the looming writers' strike. Deadline reports that Burke was upbeat in his assessment of the negotiating situation, telling analysts, "Strikes aren’t good for anybody. I'm hopeful we’ll get it done." But many think that Burke is being overly optimistic.

On Monday the members of the Writers Guild of America voted to authorize a strike. The union's contract expires on May 1st and there is no new contract in place between the writers and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. If no deal is struck the writers will go on strike.

The L.A. Times reports that the negotiations are tense and center on the writers' requests for pay increases and higher residuals for shows that are streamed on Amazon and Netflix. The union also wants an increase in employer contributions to the writers' health plan.

We are in what many are calling a Golden Age of Television. But things aren't so golden for the writers who write all the great content streaming on Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. Shorter tv seasons for network shows and exclusivity clauses have caused writers' compensation to plummet. Income from reruns is disappearing, due to the new ways that shows are streamed and made available to consumers. Also hitting the writers' pocketbooks hard are decreases in how many people see films in theaters and the drop off in DVD sales. All those those streams of income are drying up, yet consumers are watching more content than ever before. And it's the writers who are taking the financial hit. The old formulas for residuals don't work in today's media landscape.

The last writers' strike was ten years ago. Now many are worried that another one is just around the corner, especially if the studios won't play fair with writers.

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