WGA strike set to end after union reaches tentative agreement with AMPTP

Podcast writers will be able to option their scripts for TV soon

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, which has been going on since the start of May this year, could be coming to an end soon after the union announced that it had reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Sunday. 

Following a negotiation period over five consecutive days, the WGA committee sent an email to its members stating that the deal is “exceptional” and that it has “meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership”. 

Members of the union were striking for higher pay, better working conditions, and better measurements and protections against the use of 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 and outlines.

This is the first WGA strike that has involved fiction podcast writers as the last one occurred 15 years ago, before the rise of commercial podcasting. Both members and non-members of the union were barred from working on fiction podcasts that are covered by a WGA contract as otherwise TV and Film studios could use them “as a loophole” to develop new projects during the strike. 

Independent podcasts were not affected by the strike as long as no part of the production involved any of the companies that were struck. Audio fiction writers were also advised to consult the union’s Audio Alliance before contracting any of their work and told that they would be in “safer territory” working on projects that were already in development. Non-members of the union that failed to comply with the strike rules would be barred from joining the union in the future.

As a result, a number of fiction podcasts were affected by the WGA strike and have had to pause productions on adaptations. The writers of comedy drama podcast Jackie The Ripper, Joel Emery and Adam Jarrell, also known as ‘Holy Smokes’, told PodPod in a previous episode of the podcast that a black comedy feature adaptation of their podcast was put on hold due to the WGA strike as the production company The Number 44 put a brake on all projects, despite Emery and Jarrell owning the IP of the podcast. 

In addition to the WGA strike, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union has been striking since July this year which has also affected podcasts as Hollywood actors and performers are barred from appearing on podcasts to promote any of their TV or film work - past or present - as part of the strike rules. This affects official companion podcasts produced by the TV and film companies and a number of them have since paused production including the Office Ladies, Full House Rewatch, and more. There are no updates yet on whether the SAG-AFTRA union is close to reaching an agreement with the AMPTP.