ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Writers’ Guild Strike and Their Indian Counterparts


The halfway maiden screening of the movie Oppenheimer witnessed the dramatic walkout of the leading star-cast who registered their solidarity in support of the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG–AFTRA) strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in Los Angeles. The strike began on 18 April 2023, after six weeks of negotiations failed with the AMPTP. The AMPTP represents an alliance of famous studios and streaming platforms like studios and streamers such as Warner Bros, Discovery, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and Paramount. Various other actors, comedians, and celebrities have come out in support of this strike.

There are three fundamental issues that underlie the union strike, and interestingly, all three labour issues stand more complicated than the usual employee–employer conflicts due to challenges posed by over-the-top (OTT) as the platform of consumption. First, there is the issue of the nature of engagement. The period of engagement for writers has now been cut down by around 40% than before. Second, the earlier set practice of receiving residual income for every airing of the episodes has zeroed down to almost nothing as the platforms are now those which “stream” and not which “broadcast.” Some writers claim that these residual proceeds were quite significant in making ends meet and to sustain in a place like Hollywood, but now even that seems difficult. Third, the writers on strike also registered their concerns and insecurities about the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) formally by the production houses to produce content. The WGA proposed regulations around the use of AI to create source material and write, or rewrite, literary material. The AMPTP, especially Disney and Netflix, refused to rule out any future possibility of using AI-generated content or material.

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