The Writers Guild of America has pledged to go on strike on May 2 if it doesn’t reach a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The Guild made the announcement via a letter sent to media buyers, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. The WGA and the AMPTP are scheduled to meet for five days, starting Monday, to negotiate a new contract. The current contract expires May 1.
“In the event that we are unable to negotiate a new contract with the AMPTP, a work stoppage will begin May 2nd,” states the letter, via THR. “Should this occur, writing for television, feature films and digital series will cease.”
The letter, signed by the Guild’s executive director David Young, states that the entity is seeking a $178 million per year deal, making it the first time the Guild has publicly revealed its monetary contract demands. “We estimate that our current proposals would cost a total of $178 million over the entire industry,” the letter says. “The combined cost to the six largest firms is $117 million.” The document specifies the annual costs estimates for network and studios: CBS $16.0 million; Disney $21.20 million; Fox $25.45 million; NBC $17.90 million; Sony $12.80 million; Time Warner $27.40 million; Viacom $9.79 million; other producers $47.74 million, which totals $178.28 million.
A strike “could have a significant impact on primetime programming for the 2017-2018 television season,” warns the letter. It also states that late-night shows would “immediately … go off the air.” However, most likely, some hosts might end up improvising their own monologues as they did during the 2007-08 strike. Back then, the “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” were able to return to the airwaves with writers, after Letterman’s Worldwide Pants company, which owned both shows, worked out an interim deal with the WGA separate from the AMPTP negotiations.
The letter also reminds media buyers of how, during the 2007-08 strike, “[t]he loss of original programming had a significant impact on ratings,” and how, as a result, NBC had “to return money to advertisers rather than offer make-goods.” Some of the issues being being brought to the table by the WGA include bigger contributions from the studios to health care and pension plans for members.