What's in tentative WGA deal? Proposed contract covers artificial intelligence, pay

Hollywood writers ended a nearly 150-day strike but still must ratify deal.

September 27, 2023, 12:07 PM

The top brass at the Writers Guild of America approved a tentative agreement with the studios on Tuesday, ending a nearly 150-day strike and sending the deal to roughly 11,000 members for ratification.

Hollywood writers will begin casting their votes on Monday and, if a majority supports the contract, it will shape employment in the industry on issues ranging from increases in pay to the use of artificial intelligence to the sharing of viewership data.

The tentative agreement was confirmed by The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP, the group negotiating on behalf of the studios. The AMPTP did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Disney, one of the studios represented by AMPTP, is the parent company of ABC News.

Here's what to know about the terms of the tentative agreement struck by Hollywood writers and studios:

Pay increases and audience data

The contract dispute followed a decade-long shift to streaming that has dramatically changed the way audiences watch TV and movies.

In turn, writers sought not only pay increases for their immediate work but also alterations to residual payments, which is the compensation writers receive when their shows or movies are re-aired or gain popularity.

Under the tentative contract, minimum weekly pay for writers will increase more than 12% over the 3-year duration of the deal, according to a summary of the tentative agreement made public by the WGA.

Moreover, various projects will see a major boost in residual payments. A feature-length project made for streaming with a significant budget will receive a 26% increase in the residual base made available to writers.

Residuals for foreign content will increase even more, rising as much as 76% over the duration of the contract, the WGA summary said.

Meanwhile, writers will gain an additional bump in residuals if a project becomes a hit. Series and films viewed by 20% or more of the service's domestic subscribers in the first 90 days of release will receive a sizable bonus in residuals.

Alongside these pay increases comes a first-of-its-kind agreement forcing the studios to share the audience data for original streaming programs, which will allow the writers to understand how much their shows are being watched. Because a non-disclosure agreement governs this stipulation, however, the data may not be made available to the public.

Mary McDonnell attends the SAG-AFTRA And WGA Strike Battlestar Galactica "So Say We All!" -themed picket held at Universal Studios, Sept. 21, 2023, in Universal City, Calif.
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Artificial intelligence

Throughout the contract dispute, writers expressed significant concerns over the potential use of artificial intelligence as a substitute for their work.

Under the terms of the tentative deal, AI cannot write or rewrite literary material, the WGA summary said. Meanwhile, a writer can choose to use AI if a studio approves of its use, but a writer cannot be required to do so.

However, the agreement does not prohibit studios from training AI on writers' work.

Working conditions

The rise of streaming has brought the proliferation of series as short as six episodes, diminishing the total number of writers on a given project and the duration of their employment, the WGA previously told ABC News.

The tentative contract sets minimum standards on these and other issues tied to working conditions.

The deal calls for the employment of at least six writing-related employees on a series that runs six episodes or fewer, the WGA summary said. At least nine writing-related workers must be employed on a series that runs 13 or more episodes.

Writers are guaranteed at least 10 weeks of employment in "development rooms" in the early phase of a project, and promised at least 20 weeks of work if they're part of the "post-greenlight" writers' room.

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