Thursday, 20 Jun 2024

With writers' strike underway, film and TV studios start labor talks with directors


With writers' strike underway, film and TV studios start labor talks with directors

Television and film studios, already dealing with a strike by the Writers Guild of America, started contract negotiations Wednesday with the Directors Guild of America. If those talks break down, they could lead to even broader work stoppages on film and television sets nationwide.

SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents actors, is due to begin their own talks next month. The industry is undergoing major changes because of the shift to streaming, and all three sets of talks could prove difficult.

Without a quick resolution, American audiences may be left without much new content to watch later this year or in early 2024.

"We know there will be conflict," said Todd Holland, a member of the directors' negotiating committe, in a message to the union's 19,000 members. "The battle will test us. But we won't rest until we win a strong contract today that builds a bridge to continued DGA prosperity into the future."

The shift to streaming has upended the economics of the industry. Most streaming services outside of Netflix have been losing money, although Warner Bros. Discovery, the owner of CNN, just reported its first narrow profit from its streaming service.

"The explosive popularity of streaming around the world has transformed how, and where, our work is viewed - and our contracts must adapt to changing production and distribution," said Karen Gaviola, another member of the directors' negotiating team.

But the economics of traditional media are also becoming more difficult, with ad revenue slumping and movie box office still well below pre-pandemic levels. The studios are represented in negotiations by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which includes Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), CBS (VIAC), Disney (DIS), NBC Universal, Netflix (NFLX), Paramount Global, Sony (SNE) and Warner Bros. Discovery.

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