The Writers Guild of America released details of the contract, that has been agreed upon with the AMPTP. This success comes after a near five months of the writers strike.
This new contract is finally addressing many modern concerns that the writers have been striking against.
Here is a summary of the 2023 WGA contract:
1. MBA minimum increases
Firstly, there are MBA minimum increases by 5%, on ratification of the contract, 4% on 5/2/2024 and 3.5% on 5/2/2025. Some minimums and rates increase less, mostly by 3% each year.
2. Health and Pension Fund
Health and pension contributions have been increased on reportable earnings by 0.5%, and in the second year of the agreement, this will rise to 11.5% – 12%.
The Guild will be able to divert an additional 0.5% in the second and third year for the health fund/pension fund.
3. Health and Pensions contributions for writing teams
A new change will now see each writer on a writing team employed for a script, will receive pension and health contributions up to a relevant cap, as though they were a single writer.
4. Artificial Intelligence
A growing modern concern amongst many fields in the workplace has been AI. Now there’s been appropriate regulations approved on the software/technology.
There can be no AI used to write or rewrite literary material, and AI-generated material will not considered source material under the MBA, which meams that AI can’t be used to undermine or writer’s credit or separated rights.
Writers can use AI performing writing services that assist, however it cannot be set as requirement by a company for a writer to use AI software.
There has to be full disclosure to the WGA; surrounding the use of AI in projects and the WGA have a right to approve or not.
5. Improved terms for screenwriter employment
Guaranteed 2nd step
A guaranteed 2nd step is now required, when a writer is hired for a first draft, on 200% minimum or less, this is includes original and non-original screenplays. This also applies to spec purchases.
Accelerated payment structure for flat deals
Screenwriters will now be paid 50% of their commencement fees, when when they are hired on a flat deal basis of 200% of minimums or less. Writers who have not delivered in the first 9 weeks, 25% is payable upon invoice and then the final 25% is due on delivery of the step.
For a streaming feature that costs a budget of $30 million or more, the minimum initial compensation a story and teleplay is an 18% increase to $100,000 and finally there will be a 26% increass in risiduals.
Combined with the foreign residual improvements described below, this results in a 3-year residual of $216,000 for projects on the largest services, a 49% increase from $144,993 under the 2020 MBA.
6. Improved terms in high budget subscription video on demand (HBSVOD)
Increased foreign streaming residuals
There will be 76% increase (including 2.5% base increase) in foreign based residuals and this will now be calculated on the amount of subscribers globally, that the streaming services have. It’s quoted by the WGA that Netflix’ 3 year foreign residuals will increase ‘from the current $18,684 for a one-hour episode to $32,830.’
Viewership-based streaming bonus
In the new contract; residuals will be based on viewership. From January 1, 2024; content that is made for HBSVOD, and viewed by 20% or more of the service’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days or first 90 days in the exhibition year, will get a bonus equal to 50% of the fixed domestic and foreign residuals.
The views are also calculated by hours streamed of the season or film divided by the runtime, domestically.
Streaming data transparency
Finally there is a confidentiality agreement in place; where streaming platforms will be sharing self-produced high budget domestic and international streaming program data with the WGA; to be able to see hours streamed.
Premium for Pilot & Backup Scripts
There’s now 150% on pilot premiums and 115% for backup script premiums, that applies to programs made for HBSVOD.
6. Minimum Terms for Advertising-Supported Streaming (AVOD)
The same initial compensation will now be applied for high budget programs on ad-supported streaming services, including network primetime script fees, as well span protections. The programs will also receive 2% residuals for reuse on AVODs.
7. Increased Compensation for Series Employment: Weekly Pay and Staff Writer Script Fees
Weekly pay increases
There are overall minimum increases of (5%-4%-3.5%) for staff writers and article 14 writers weekly rates.
Writer-Producer Weekly Rates
This is a new tier for writer-producers (co-producer level and above), with a higher minimum rate of 9.5%, over the story editor/executive story editor rate. The new rates go into effect for new season after 60 days of the ratification.
Development room premiums
Writers in any projects, in a pre-greenlight room of at least 3 writers, including these for inbetween seasons, will be paid premium rates of up to 19 weeks (premium doesn’t apply to above this). The development room rates will be 25% above the highest regular, all beginning from November 1, 2023.
Staff Writer Script Fees
It’s now mandatory that staff writers must be paid script fees for episodes written.
8. Staffing and Duration Provisions for Episodic Series
For episodes writter after December 1, 2023; there will be provisional requirements in place for hiring a minimum number of writers and the duration of employment.
Three writer-producers in the development room for a series, will be guaranteed 10 consecutive weeks of employment.
‘Development rooms where writers are guaranteed 20 weeks of work or more are treated as post-greenlight rooms.’
‘For these rooms on first season shows, the minimum staff size required will be 3 writer-producers (including the showrunner). For these rooms in the second or subsequent season of a show the required minimum number of writers is determined by the anticipated episode order.’
Post-greenlight staff must be employed for a guareenteed 20-weeks or more depending on the project.
Writers in production
Two writer-producers in US and Canada must be employed for 20 weeks, who are working single-camera series, made for HBSVOD and Pay TV.
9. Improved Options, Exclusivity, and Span Protections
There is an increase from $325,000 to $350,000 as of May 2, 2024, for exclusivity protections.
Span protections will be increasing from $400,000 to $450,000 (Basic Cable remaining at $375,000), and this is also expanding limited series.
10. Appendix A Series Made for Subscription Streaming Services
For subscription streaming budgets above $600,000 (half-hour) or $1.15 million for a one-hour show, on Comedy-Variety, Quiz & Audience, or Other Non-Dramatic programs.
There will be weekly initial compensation minimums and there will be 13 week guarentees for 13 programs.
‘Projects with four episodes per week have lower breaks; for instance, Comedy-Variety strip shows have budget breaks of $150,000 for 30-minute show, $250,000 for 60-minute.’
‘All high budget Appendix A programs will receive a residual of 1.2% of the license fee for use after the first 26 weeks.’
11. Showrunner training program
The WGA has reached an agreement to renew funding ($250,000), for the showrunner training program.
At the moment, actors in SAG-AFTRA are still wating for the AMPTP to offer a fair deal, before everything can fully resume once again. There’s also currently a vote being held for video game performers to strike.