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Writers Guild of America prepares for potentially tense contract negotiations with major studios

Writers Guild of America prepares for potentially tense contract negotiations with major studios
The Writers Guild of America will sit down next month with film and TV producers to hammer out a new contract. (David McNew / Getty Images)

The Writers Guild of America said it would begin formal contract negotiations next month, as writers look to sit down with studios, networks and independent producers to discuss TV and film compensation for the guild's members.

The union, whose east and west coast guilds have about 13,000 members, said it would begin formal contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on March 13. The talks, which will take place at the Alliance's headquarters in Sherman Oaks, will focus on a new contract to replace the current three-year agreement that was reached in 2014 and that expires May 1.

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Talks come at a sensitive time for Hollywood labor relations. Talent unions are seeking a bigger share of burgeoning streaming revenues, while major film and TV studios are grappling with changing consumer behavior that has undermined traditional business models.

SAG-AFTRA, which represents actors and other performers, is also expected to begin contract negotiations with studios this spring for its contract set to expire June 30. SAG-AFTRA is currently in the midst of a strike against video game companies over compensation and safety for voice and motion-capture actors. The strike began in October and has seen little in the way of compromise from either side.

In January, the Directors Guild of America ratified a new contract that included a boost in residuals for streaming media and a wage increase.

The WGA's last major strike in 2007 became a major disruption for film and TV production. The dispute lasted 100 days before an agreement was reached in early 2008 that established a framework for compensating writers for work distributed online.

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