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WGA, AMPTP reach tentative deal: Which shows will be back first?

The Writer's Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have reached a tentative agreement. Alex Weprin, Media and Business Writer for the Hollywood Reporter, tells Yahoo Finance Live that late-night shows are expected to resume production within the next few weeks. However, the resumption of scripted movies and TV shows is going to depend more on a resolution in the ongoing strike by the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The primary issues revolve around AI and streaming, as SAG-AFTRA asserts that compensation should be on par with what they receive for traditional linear television programs.

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

Video transcript

RACHELLE AKUFFO: Well, Hollywood writers have reached a tentative deal with studios after 146 days on the picket line. They may be able to finally hang up their signs. Now, the deal is expected to be ratified within the next week or two. Then the studios will have to work to do with the Actors Guild.


Now, SAG-AFTRA tweeted following the WGA news saying, quote, "We look forward to reviewing the terms of the WGA and AMPTP's tentative agreement. And we remain ready to resume our own negotiations with the AMPTP as soon as they're prepared to engage on our proposals in a meaningful way."

Well, joining me now for the latest on this is Alex Weprin, media and business writer for "The Hollywood Reporter." Good to have you on the show, Alex. So at least some welcome relief here at this point. What do we know about what this means in terms of the shows that we can expect to come back online and start production?

ALEX WEPRIN: Well, Rachelle, the first shows that are going to come back are the late night shows. They've been dark since the Writers went on strike back in May. Those should come back online in the next couple of weeks or so. It depends on when they can get staffs to the office. The thing with a lot of the other scripted movies and TV shows, though, is that those really can't resume production until SAG-AFTRA has a new Deal, as well.

And so that's why I think there's going to be a big push to try and resolve the strike with SAG-AFTRA because the clock is ticking right now for the holidays. So I think that there's going to be a big push to resolve that strike. And until they do, most scripted film and television is still going to be shut down.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: So then in terms of some of the-- obviously, there's overlapping issues with the WGA that SAG-AFTRA has. But what are some of the more complex ones which are going to hold up production getting back on track?

ALEX WEPRIN: There are a couple of issues this time around that just didn't exist before. There were some like pay raises and increase residuals. Those are obvious. Those are things, I think, everyone is expecting to deal with. But the role of artificial intelligence in film and television creation, that's a whole new problem for them to solve.

And so the specific language around how they can use AI, that's been a sticking point for the writers. They did come to a solution. We don't know what the specific details are. But they seem to come to an agreement. That's going to be a sticking point with the actors as well who are really worried about virtual actors or AI-generated actors being used in film and television production. So that's a sticking point.

And then the other big sticking point is streaming. When this deal was ratified, SAG-AFTRA, the last deal, streaming was a thing. But it's now become the dominant place for scripted film and TV. And they believe that they should be paid commensurate with what they were getting paid for their linear television programs. That wasn't the case. And so these two new technologies, streaming and AI, . Those are kind of the big sticking points

RACHELLE AKUFFO: Because it really does come to really future-proofing the industry. As you mentioned, a lot of things just weren't on the radar when a lot of these original deals were negotiated. And I do want to bring up something that you mentioned, which is about the timing, because you were saying in your notes that the importance of reaching a deal before Thanksgiving, otherwise, we could see these strikes go into 2024. What sort of domino effect then does that mean for production and even being able to get some of these shows out?

ALEX WEPRIN: Yeah. I mean, look, you know, let's say that SAG the studios resume talks at some point this week. Maybe later this week. Then you're talking about a couple of weeks to negotiate a deal at best, and then it'll take a couple of weeks for it to get ratified. SAG is a very big union. There's over 100,000 members.

And at that point, you're just about at Thanksgiving. And between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that's when Hollywood usually shuts down. So at that point, most productions probably won't be able to get up and running until 2024. Maybe there will be a push to get some up and running in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But at that point, you know, it's going to have a major impact on the bottom line, especially for the linear television channels, which won't really have new shows until later in the spring. So there really is a sprint here to get a deal done, I think. And the sooner they can get one going, the sooner they can get these shows back on the air, and the sooner that the companies that own these channels and streaming services can reverse their financial fortunes.