WBD’s David Zaslav Says Industry Must Focus And Fight To Resolve Strikes As They Spill Into The Fall

David Zaslav said today that Warner Bros. Discovery had anticipated putting Hollywood strikes in the rear-view mirror this month, but with no end in sight, “We are really going to fight to get this resolved.”  

“I was in LA the last two days, and we really have to focus as industry — and we are trying — to get this resolved in a way that is really fair and everyone feels fairly treated,” he told investors at a Goldman Sachs media conference.

“In our guidance, we said that this would be resolved in September. And here we are in September. And this is really a very unusual event to have. The last time it happened was 1960. And so what we did is, we just said we are really going to fight to get this resolved.”

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He didn’t specify what his company, or others, are doing to push forward a resolution.

On Tuesday, WBD revised the financial impact the dual strikes will have on the company — higher free cash flow and lower earnings in 2023. For Wall Street, the more free cash flow the better and investors don’t yet appear particularly pained. But Zaslav’s comments today were a bit longer and maybe a bit more urgent sounding that previously. The WGA struck on May 2, SAG-AFTRA on July 14. There are no formal talks currently on between the AMPTP and either guild.

“We are just hopeful as a company, and I am very hopeful, that we can get that resolved. If we can get it resolved soon, then the long-term impact will be minimized,” he said.

“But there are real industry challenges here. We haven’t fully recovered from Covid, particularly on the motion pictures side. And so we’ve put off some movies. We put off Dune [Part Two] and some other movies. So we are very focused on how we get this industry, this great industry, back.”

Asked how soon the company could have production up and running once the strikes end, he said: “We are ready and raring. So as soon as these strikes are resolved, everybody is ready to get back to work, us in particular. To just activate.”

Deadline just rep0rted that Warner Bros. Television has moved to suspend the remaining overall deals with some of its top creators, including those with active projects.

WBD’s content segment accounts for a third of its total revenue, noted Macquarie analyst Tim Nollen, among the highest of the big media companies. Prolonged strikes mean a weaker content slate, already in the fourth quarter, impacting all divisions.

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