How a Hollywood strike could affect your favourite TV shows

April 28, 2023  –If Hollywood writers go on strike next week, some of your favourite shows may not survive.

With a 1 May deadline for a deal with the union approaching, a strike could happen as early as next week, with writers and their supporters picketing outside the studios’ gates.

The biggest issue is how writers are paid in the new streaming economy, with many reporting lower wages as digital platforms have upended traditional television and film productions, says the Writers Guild of America, the union representing television and film writers.

“These are the storytellers that entertain the whole world. They need the stability of the compensation we are seeking to maintain a career,” Charles Slocum, an Assistant Executive Director with the Writers Guild, told the BBC.

If a strike does happen, late night TV in the US will be the first visible sign. Without comedy writers to poke fun at the day’s news – shows like Saturday Night Live and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver will go off air.

Some movies and TV shows could continue filming if scripts are already written, but some will shut down because some actors, directors and set workers will refuse to cross picket lines.

“This is a shared fight and Teamsters do not cross picket lines,” the Teamsters union, which represents workers who provide transport on film and TV sets, said in a statement.

“These multi-billion-dollar corporations – including Amazon, Netflix, Disney, and Apple – invest in highly paid executives and lavish productions. They can afford to share the wealth with the writers who create the content we all watch.”

The last writers’ strike in 2007-2008 lasted 100 days and cost the California economy $2bn (£1.6bn), leading to many cancelled or delayed shows. Some have also credited it with boosting the proliferation of reality TV.

Back then, many daytime soap operas stayed on air with non-union scab writers. This time, the Writers Guild has warned writers that they would be barred from future membership if they break the strike.

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