WGA Says Cost of Settling is "Reasonable" But Figures Suggest Wide Gap Remains

Writers Guild of America  -picket sign 2008 - Getty-H 2017
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There’s been movement, but there may still be a quarter-billion dollar spread between the parties.

The Writers Guild of America posted a new contract bulletin that says its current proposals would cost an estimated $156 million per year, a figure it calls "reasonable," but that figure — $468 million over three years, down from an earlier $535 million — is still double to almost triple the studios' likely target of around $180 million over three years.

It's hard to reconcile those figures with reports that the parties — the WGA, AMPTP studio alliance and representatives of eight major media companies — have made some progress. Even assuming the studios have upped their offer, the spread is likely to be in excess of $250 million, a gap that would seem to make a strike more likely than not. Talks are believed to be continuing Friday, and may well go into the weekend, but that is not known.

The existing contract expires Monday night (Tuesday 12:01 a.m.).

The guild’s contract bulletin also breaks down how much cost each of the major media conglomerates would bear if they accepted its proposals. Those amounts range from about $9 million to $24 million per year. The guild says that "for the six largest companies, who collectively reported almost $51 billion in operating profits in 2016, the cost is only $103 million." The AMPTP did not respond to a request for comment.