Writers for scripted and fiction podcasts that are represented by the Writers Guild of America have been told to stop working on projects, effective immediately, after the union officially called for a nationwide strike starting today.
Although the union is known for representing TV and film writers, the 2023 strike rules by the WGA state that this applies to fiction podcasts that are covered by a WGA contract, and that writers who wish to continue providing writing services or negotiating with companies must consult with WGA staff first.
The Verge contributing writer Amrita Khalid also reported in the Insider edition of Hot Pod that according to the WGA-East director of communications Jason Gordon, members of other divisions that work on non-fiction or news podcasts are not affected by the strike but are still required to abide by strike rules in terms of writing for Hollywood.
“All Guild members – whether they work in nonfiction podcasts, online media or news – would be required to abide by any MBA strike rules which would prevent the performance of writing services for struck companies,” said Gordon in a message to Hot Pod. “That means no Guild member, in any sector, could be hired to write TV, movies, scripted streaming series, nor sell or option any scripts.”
This is the first writers’ strike from the WGA to happen in 15 years, after negotiations with major studios like Netflix, Amazon and Apple under the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) failed to produce a favourable contract. Members of the WGA include writers from podcast studios and media houses such as Gimlet Media, Parcast, The Ringer and Vox Media.
In addition to asking for higher pay and better working conditions, the WGA also asked for studios to not use AI to source material for contract-covered writing, rewrite contract-covered work, be used for a writing credit, or generate any literary material such as screenplays, outlines, etc. However, the AMPTP rejected their proposal and instead counter-offered annual meetings to discuss advancements in technology.
Advancement in AI technology used in podcasting has already been seen in cases such as the This is Distorted narrative podcast Synthetic Stories, which launched in March 2023 and used Open AI sources such as ChatGPT and ElevenLabs to generate everything from the script to the voiceovers and artwork for the podcast.