The iconic Hollywood sign is shown on a hillside above a neighborhood in Los Angeles California, U.S., February 1, 2019.
The iconic Hollywood sign is shown on a hillside above a neighborhood in Los Angeles California, U.S., February 1, 2019. Image Credit: REUTERS

Hollywood writers and the film and television studios are racing to agree to a new contract to replace the one that expires at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Monday. If they fail to reach a deal, a strike could begin as soon as Tuesday.

Why is the Writers Guild of America threatening a strike?

The writers argue that they have been negatively impacted by streaming, saying they are working more for less money. They're seeking better compensation for their work on film, television and streaming shows, and residual payments that reward writers when a show becomes a hit.

What does this mean for my favorite TV shows?

Striking writers are prohibited from doing work on any television or film project. Late-night shows such as "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" and "Saturday Night Live," which use teams of writers to craft topical jokes, are expected to immediately stop production. Soap opera production and shows such as "The View" also are likely to be disrupted.

Streaming services such as Netflix may avoid any initial impact because they have access to foreign-language shows and production outside the United States.

If the strike drags on, it could delay the start of the fall television season. A protracted walkout could result in more unscripted reality shows and news magazines filling out the nightly programming schedule.

What do the studios say?

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the trade group negotiating the union contract on behalf of the major studios and representing the major studios and producers, says it is seeking a fair and equitable contract.

Sources close to studios say budgets are tight as Wall Street wants to see profits from multi-billion dollar streaming investments that are draining balance sheets.

How is artificial intelligence a factor?

With the emergence of artificial intelligence software, the WGA wants safeguards to prevent studios from using AI to generate new scripts from writers' previous work. Writers also want to ensure they are not asked to rewrite draft scripts created by AI.

When was the last time the writers put pencils down?

The last WGA strike in 2007 and 2008 lasted 100 days. TV networks broadcast reruns and more reality shows, while the cost to the California economy was estimated at $2.1 billion, according to the Milken Institute.