A writers’ strike could slow or stop production on Fox, CBS, HBO series

Strike signs
A WGA strike could drain millions of dollars of revenue from the industry.

The Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) resume contract discussions today following a two-week hiatus that was initiated after WGA rejected an AMPTP offer.

The ominous possibility of a WGA strike could drain millions of dollars of revenue from the industry, which has seen tremendous growth in the years since the 2007-2008 WGA strike—though members of the WGA say they aren’t receiving a fair cut.

"Writers have seen their fees go down by 23%," said Chris Keyser, co-chair of the WGA negotiating committee, Fox News reported. "For the last five or so years … the companies have seen a boom from the growth in TV. There's been an ability to reach a huge number of people around the world at any time. "

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It’s possible that companies such as Lionsgate, CBS, Viacom and others could be seriously affected by an industry shutdown if the WGA approves a writers’ strike, Deadline reported in February. The companies have huge amounts of money invested in these entertainment selections, and though a potential strike would come in May, when broadcasters are on a break, there are still multiple series that are scheduled be in production at that time.

Fox News reported that Netflix’s "Marvel" dramas and the comedy “One Day at a Time,” HBO’s “Divorce,” CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery,” and “American Horror Story” from FX, owned by 21st Century Fox, would all be immediately affected if writers refused to work in the middle of production.

Production studios, cable companies, broadcast networks and internet-based television and movie services brought in more than $50 billion last year combined, the Associated Press reported on Saturday. There are more television show series today than ever before: 455 this season compared to less than half that number six years ago. But current series typically air fewer episodes than previous series did, meaning that writers’ pay is stretched farther.

"Two-thirds of all shows, including some on broadcast, are produced with fewer episodes, but we're still paid episodic fees," Keyser told the AP. "I, for example, have a show on Amazon. And I will work for about the same amount of time as I used to work, almost a year, for eight episodic fees. So I am working for a fraction of what I used to work for, even though the companies are making double what they used to make—and I am not alone."

The WGA will poll its more than 20,000 members on Monday for a strike authorization. The current Minimum Basic Agreement between the WGA and the AMPTP expires on May 1.

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