The Writers Guild of America is in what it describes as “uncharted waters” Saturday as the failure to reach a settlement with the Association of Talent Agents means no agents can represent writers until their agencies sign the guild’s code of conduct.

The guild had set an original April 6 deadline to reach a settlement with the trade association of talent agencies, which was then extended six days. The union representing film, television, radio and new media writers is at odds with the agencies over packaging fees and affiliate production.

The guild voted overwhelmingly in results released March 31 to authorize a new code of conduct for talent agencies.

When the two sides were unable to reach an agreement Friday, the WGA sent an email to its members reminding them as of midnight Friday, every agency will be required to become a signatory to the code, WGA rules bar members from being represented by agencies that have not signed the code and to notify their agency in a written form letter that they cannot represent them until they sign the code.

“We know that, together, we are about to enter uncharted waters,” the letter signed by members of the WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee read. “Life that deviates from the current system might be various degrees of disorienting. But it has become clear that a big change is necessary.”

Following Friday’s meeting, Karen Stuart, executive director of the ATA, released a statement saying “The WGA leadership today declared a pathway for compromise doesn’t exist. Agencies have been committed to reaching an agreement with the WGA but, despite our best efforts, today’s outcome was driven by the guild’s predetermined course for chaos.

“The WGA is mandating a `Code of Conduct’ that will hurt all artists, delivering an especially painful blow to mid-level and emerging writers, while dictating how agencies of all sizes should function. We came to the negotiating table in good faith and put forth comprehensive proposals providing choice, disclosure, transparency, shared revenue and a significant investment in inclusion programs.

“Unfortunately, not to our surprise, the WGA did not accept our offer, did not provide counterproposals and refused to negotiate further. We’re prepared to continue to fight for the best interests of writers and all artists.”

David A. Goodman, the president of the Writers Guild of America West and an ex-officio member of the committee, told the ATA “we are willing to continue meeting with you when you provide a proposal that truly addresses our expressed concerns.”

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