The television industry could be affected by a possible Hollywood writers’ strike. Shows like Saturday Night Live or Last Week Tonight With John Oliver may go off the air. The Writers Guild of America wants to improve the wages that writers are receiving in the streaming economy. The digital platforms have changed the way traditional film and television productions are done and reduced the amount of money that writers get paid. The writers want to be assured that they will continue to get credit for their writing, despite the rapid rise of artificial intelligence. The negotiations between the Writers Guild and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in order to avoid a possible strike were not smooth.

In the days of broadcasting, writers were hired to write a 22-episode television season. They would receive a salary up front and a residual payment when the show was rerun. Hollywood’s business model was disrupted when streaming came along. Writers claim that streamers are reducing the number of episodes per season. This makes it more difficult to find work all year. The writers also complain about being asked to provide free script rewrites for weeks or even months. Some movies and television shows may continue to film if the scripts have already been written. However, others will be shut down if actors, directors and set workers refuse to cross the picket line.

The 2007-2008 writers’ strike lasted for 100 days, costing the California economy over $2 billion and resulting in many shows being canceled or delayed. Writers Guild warned that writers who break the strike would be banned from membership in future. The negotiations this time have been less smooth. In fact, earlier this month 11,500 Writers Guild Members voted to authorize a strike in the event that a contract couldn’t be reached. The AMPTP called for “reasonable concessions” but did not specify any specific sticking points.