Hollywood is preparing for a writers’ strike that could halt production on most TV shows

New York (CNN) The clock is ticking for a costly hit that can do just that Production shutdown In most TV shows, which led to the decline of the return of many programs now prepared in the fall.

Last month members of the Writers Guild of America 98% voted in favor of the strike If a new deal is not reached before their existing contract expires at 11:59 PM PST on Monday. With less than a day to go before the deadline, the two sides look far apart.

The talks come at a time when both sides are feeling pain. Many of the media and technology companies that produce shows that use the book have seen their stock prices plummet, prompting Significantly reduce costincluded Layoffs. But writers, many of whom cannot support themselves with writing alone, suffer from reduced employment and Loss of some sources of income Due to the industry’s shift from traditional broadcasting and cable programming to streaming services.

A statement from the union said, “Companies have used the transition to live broadcasting to reduce writer salaries…which has led to deteriorating working conditions for soap opera writers at all levels.” On a TV crew, at least more writers work regardless of experience, often for fewer weeks [of pay]…. While soap opera budgets have risen over the past decade, average writer-producer salaries have fallen.”

“This is no ordinary negotiating session,” Danielle Sanchez Wetzel, a member of the union’s negotiating team, said in a video message to members a month ago. “We are fighting for the economic survival of writers and the stability of our profession.”

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The union is negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Amazon (AMZN)And apple (AAPL)And CBS (fiak)And Disney (dis)NBC Universal Netflix (NFLX)Paramount Global Sony (SNE) and CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.

“Our goal remains to reach a fair and reasonable agreement,” a statement from the department said. “The AMPTP companies have approached these negotiations with the long-term health and stability of the industry as our priority. We are all partners in charting the future of our business together and we are fully committed to reaching a mutually beneficial deal.”

While many shows have already filmed their current season finales, viewers can see an immediate impact with late night shows, series and daytime shows like Saturday Night Live, which may end early for their seasons.

And with estimates that the strike could last for months – the last strike by this union, in 2007, lasted 100 days – the start of the new season could be delayed.

“If this continues, we’re going to see more reality, news and sports,” said Jonathan Handel, entertainment attorney and author of Hollywood on Strike!: An Industry at War in the Internet Age.

Handel is one of those who believe that a hit, quite possibly a hit of months, is a possibility.

“There is a lot of unfinished business from the 2020 negotiations that was raised at the time but then froze because of the pandemic,” he said.

The economics of the industry have changed drastically in just the past eighteen months, He said, As many media and technology stocks have taken hits, investors are worried about the profitability of streaming services. While it was initially the industry’s battle to get the largest number of subscribers, attention has now turned to the bottom line.

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“Both the media companies and the technology companies that own streaming equipment are in the act of tightening their belts,” Handel said. “Today’s tune is earnings.”

The union represents 11,500 television show writers, for networks and broadcast services, as well as many motion pictures. However, not all of them are currently working. But if they do go on strike, it could have widespread ramifications for the industry, for the economies of Southern California and some other locations, like New York City.

Up to 20,000 workers working on up to 600 products could be out of work if the book closes production, according to an estimate from AMPTP. The 2007 strike caused an estimated $2 billion in economic damage. After adjusting for inflation, it’s roughly $3 billion today.

It seems unlikely that management will grant the union the improvements it says its members need for a living wage. If anything, there are incentives to let this one go for the long haul.

“The issue raised by the writers is real, and it’s meaningful, but their timing couldn’t be worse,” said Tom Noonan, a lecturer in the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. Film Producer and writer.

“Media companies are laying off people and crying for the poor, re-evaluating their investments in streaming and scrutinizing their more mature revenue streams,” he said. “I don’t think the studios have much to lose if there’s a strike and there might be a lot to gain. If you have a layoff, you have immediate savings.”

The writers argue that their contracts need to take into account the entertainment industry’s shift to streaming. Residual fees — or money paid when a movie or series is rerun or broadcast on broadcast — have helped provide writers much-needed funds for years. But those fees are fading away in the age of streaming, with so many projects landing in the end these days.

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Writers also see smaller writing staff on shows than in the past, and fewer episodes of shows produced for streaming platforms than those produced for broadcast networks in the past.

Even if the union does resolve the issues it raised, the question of ‘Could this really be a career for me?'” Noonan said. “She’ll still be hanging on for most of the book, after the strike.” “I know very few writers who pay the bills by writing on their own.”

— CNN’s Vanessa Jurkevich and Oliver Darcy contributed to this report

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