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Despite the rise of streaming, the average salary of writers has fallen in the last decade, according to a WGA report


The Writers Guild of America has released data showing how streaming has depressed pay for Hollywood writers over the past decade.

The union found that half of all TV series writers were paid the basic minimum rate under the union contract. That’s an increase from 33% in 2013-14.

The percentage of showrunners working with the minimum contract is 24%, 22 percentage points more than a decade ago.

And the average weekly salary for writers and producers decreased 23% during the period when adjusted for inflation, the union said.

“Companies have used the transition to broadcasting to cut writers’ pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels,” the WGA said in its report released Tuesday. “On television staff, more writers are working at the bare minimum, regardless of experience. And while series budgets have skyrocketed in the past decade, median pay for writers and producers has fallen.

The data paints a bleak picture for film and television writers in the entertainment industry, as the union prepares for contentious negotiations over a new contract to replace the one that expires on May 1. Talks between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the WGA begin Monday. .

The union hopes the data will bolster its argument in the bargain that writers deserve a raise in compensation as new technologies dramatically change the way entertainment is consumed.

“Companies have taken advantage of the streaming transition to pay writers less, creating more precarious and lower-paying models for writers’ work,” the union said.

The WGA also looked at the impact of broadcasters’ practice of ordering shorter series. In addition to the weekly game drop, most broadcast show writers make less per season due to shorter work stints, he said.

Traditionally, television networks would order around 20 episodes that would be worked on for 10 months. Increasingly, studios focused on airing short series with eight to 10 episodes.

Now, low and mid level writers on a broadcast series tend to work 20-24 weeks or just 14 weeks. if the writers room kicks off before the show is greenlit.

Despite the shorter seasons, showrunners often still work the same length of time as on broadcast television, which the WGA says reflects the actual time needed to complete a series. More than 40% of showrunners on broadcast shows reported working for more than a year on their most recent season.

In 2017, the union addressed the issue of writers’ pay dilution through a practice known as bracket protection. This ensures that if a writer works more than 2.4 weeks per episode, then they should be paid more. The protection, however, is still subject to exceptions and caps. The union found that 40% of the most veteran writers (executive producers and showrunners) in short series were left without that protection.

In addition, the WGA found that writers who work in the comedy and variety genre for streaming services do not have the same minimum pay protection afforded to most live-action film and television writers.

Writers’ compensation has also been flat for four years, as studios have released fewer movies and box office attendance has faced long-term declines. When taking inflation into account, the salary of screenwriters has decreased by 14% in the last five years, according to the report.

The collapse in DVD sales led studios to focus on big-budget franchise films, leading to a slump in employment for screenwriters from 2008 to 2015, the WGA said, adding that there is more uncertainty about contracts. of the scriptwriters.

Screenwriters earning less than $150,000 for a first draft of a script worked 50% more than those earning the most, illustrating how newer screenwriters were subject to demands from producers for free labor, according to the report.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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