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Writers Guild of America West signs deal with Apple

Writers Guild of America West signs deal with Apple
Apple is investing $1 billion in original content creation, including new TV series and movies. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

The Writers Guild of America West said Thursday it had signed an agreement with Apple Inc., underscoring the union’s long-standing goal to expand its foray into digital media.

In a note to its members, the union said, “Apple became a full signatory” to the union’s 2017 master basic agreement, or MBA.

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“This means that writers employed by the new signatory, Apple Development, will have MBA terms like script fees, weeklies and residuals for any show that airs free to the consumer,” union leaders said in the letter to members.

The deal terms are significant because the current union agreement does not provide such terms on free-to-consumer services and terms have to be negotiated writer by writer, the guild said.

The agreement marks a milestone for the WGA, which has long made it a priority to negotiate deals with tech giants such as Apple that are expanding their investment in Hollywood.

The union staged a 100-day strike a decade ago mainly to ensure that writers were fairly compensated for work distributed over the internet.

The new agreement with the WGA could encourage other Hollywood unions to sign similar deals with Apple.

The iPhone maker, which didn’t respond to a request for comment, is poised to become a major Hollywood content buyer and producer. It’s projected to spend $1 billion on original TV shows and movies. To realize its ambitions in the scripted field, the Cupertino, Calif., company needs to develop relationships with screenwriters who would write and produce the shows.

Among the projects that Apple has already ordered include a comedy series starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston set in the world of morning talk shows, and a comedy series starring Hailee Steinfeld as poet Emily Dickinson.

Apple is also working with Steven Spielberg on a reboot of the series “Amazing Stories.”

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