WGA asks for ‘strike authorisation’ as talks with AMPTP hit two-week mark

Disruption to US scripted productions has become slightly more likely after The Writers Guild of America (WGA) asked for its members to vote on strike authorisation.

The move had been widely expected and follows the first two weeks of discussions between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) as they attempt to thrash out a new contract.

The WGA said the AMPTP had not offered “meaningful responses on the core economic issues in any of the WGA’s primary work areas,” including episodic TV and comedy-variety.

It added that while the AMPTP had “listened politely” to presentations, it had made “small moves in only a few areas” and pushed back on others that “offset any gains.”

The letter to members added: “The studios need to respond to the crisis writers face. WGA members must demonstrate our willingness to fight for the contract writers need and deserve by supporting a strike authorisation vote.”

The AMPTP has previously said it intends to keep productions on track during negotiations with the WGA, as subjects ranging from streaming residuals to writers room size are discussed.

The current Minimum Basic Agreement is set to end on 1 May and ahead of the talks, the AMPTP – which leads discussions for the major US studios – said its members were focused on “the long-term health and stability of the industry as our priority.”

The WGA is focusing on raising basic wages, residuals from streaming and the use of smaller writers rooms to cut costs.

A strike in 2017 was narrowly averted but a decade before, writers walked out for 100 days in a move that forced shows such as Breaking Bad to cut episodes to deal with the fall-out.

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