See the Details of the AMPTP’s Latest Proposal to the WGA – IndieWire

See the Details of the AMPTP’s Latest Proposal to the WGA – IndieWire
See the Details of the AMPTP’s Latest Proposal to the WGA – IndieWire

Shortly before midnight on the east coast on Tuesday, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) released its latest counterproposal to the Writers Guild (WGA), its first offer in over 100 days of the guild being on strike. The idea was that this was a “comprehensive proposal” that addressed all the writers’ top concerns and demonstrated the studios were “committed to ending the strike.”

We learned some hours later in the evening that the details came just 20 minutes after guild leadership met directly with Hollywood CEOs, including Disney’s Bob Iger, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav, and AMPTP lead negotiator Carol Lombardini.

The WGA rejected that proposal on August 22, the AMPTP’s only proposal since the start of the strike. And it’s quite possible that any progress that was actually made since then will again be stalled.

Charlie Kaufman, Bob Iger

Writers Strike 2023

The WGA has numerous times lashed out at the AMPTP for leaks of its proposals to the press and trying to negotiate in the media. By releasing their proposals all together, the leadership as part of the WGA negotiating committee believes this demonstrates another studio strategy to divide the union, and that their proposal was not the first step in a negotiation but a “lecture” about what they’re passing up.

“This wasn’t a meeting to make a deal. This was a meeting to get us to cave,” the WGA wrote late Tuesday. “This was the companies’ plan from the beginning – not to bargain, but to jam us. It is their only strategy – to bet that we will turn on each other.”

Whether the AMPTP’s intentions are really that nefarious, the expectation is that by publicly releasing their offer, some writers might like what they see.

“Our priority is to end the strike so that valued members of the creative community can return to what they do best and to end the hardships that so many people and businesses that service the industry are experiencing,” Lombardini wrote Tuesday. “We have come to the table with an offer that meets the priority concerns the writers have expressed. We are deeply committed to ending the strike and are hopeful that the WGA will work toward the same resolution.”

So here that offer is, with some notes from us.

The AMPTP is offering wage increases of 5 percent in year one, 4 percent in year two, and 3.5 percent in year three of the three-year contract. The AMPTP said that’s the highest increase in 35 years. It’s also what the directors got in their deal. The writers as of May 1 had demanded 6-5-5 in base wage increases and have argued that such raises still don’t keep up with inflation. The studios did however provide 15 percent wage increases for writer-producers — or “Article 14” writers — meaning there’s now a higher wage tier for TV writers. Worldwide streaming residuals, both for foreign and domestic, would also increase from $72,067 to $87,546 per episode for three exhibition years under the AMPTP offer.

On the big issue of preserving the writers room, the studios would guarantee at least 20 weeks of employment to two mid-level writers assigned to production that the showrunner selects. The AMPTP framed this proposal as addressing the concerns of the guild that the writers and showrunners of tomorrow aren’t getting opportunities to learn and grow because they’re no longer kept around through production.

That’s a big step from back in May, when the AMPTP refused to make a counter proposal and called the idea “incompatible” with the modern creative process. But the writers wanted half of the minimum staff employed through production and have a minimum staff determined by the number of episodes. Other media reports have said the writers have lowered their numbers slightly since that initial proposal.

The writers also want people paid through development rooms, or pre-greenlight rooms, and the AMPTP is now offering a minimum of 10 weeks employment in such rooms. That matches the duration the guild was seeking, but it also originally wanted pre-greenlight paid weekly at a 25% premium.

And after previously refusing to budge on data transparency, the AMPTP will offer viewership data “in the form of quarterly confidential reports.” Those reports will show “total SVOD view hours per title.” One of the debates in the room is whether “hours” or “views” is a more accurate metric. But the writers also wanted that data to be tied to a bonus compensation structure for hit shows, and that is not something that appears within the AMPTP’s latest offer.

Finally, on the use of AI, the terms certainly go beyond the two-line verbiage in the DGA’s deal. The proposal says that AI-generated material can’t be considered literary material covered under the MBA, and that a writer’s pay and credits won’t be affected by any AI material used. The devil is in the details here, and the full AMPTP document goes a little longer on the use of AI, saying that any AI generated material won’t be considered source material, it won’t be considered assigned material when determining a writer’s compensation, it won’t disqualify a writer from receiving rights, and the company still has to disclose that it is using generative AI.

The example the AMPTP provides is that this is more protection than if the studio were to acquire a script from someone in the UK not covered under a WGA contract and then asked a writer to rewrite it or base their own screenplay on it. But the writers have also been concerned with how AI is used to train generative AI tools without compensation, while some writers online at least believe AI should be banned altogether.

Some of the other below-the-line offers from the AMPTP include conditions for AVOD shows, variety and reality shows seen on SVOD streaming, a guaranteed “second step” for feature screenwriters to get an opportunity to perform a rewrite, more healthcare and pension gains, and staff writers getting script fees for their salaries.

Both the WGA and AMPTP even did reach some tentative agreements on certain terms, including doubling the minimum salary for overall deals, expanded span protections, and on the funding of a “Showrunner Training Program.”

It’s currently unclear if this move by the AMPTP to generate good PR means the two sides won’t return to the table anytime soon. But numerous sources IndieWire has spoken with in the past two weeks have been hopeful that these latest talks could mean a strike could be resolved by mid-September, once membership was able to vote on a tentative deal. A rumor even persisted that a tentative deal would’ve been reached late last Friday, though that didn’t come to pass.

Now how long both the writers and actors remain on the picket lines is anyone’s guess.