UTA has just announced that it reached agreement with the Writers Guild to sign a franchise agreement that will permit it to resume representation of writers.

This will bring a partial end to a dispute that has lasted for over a year. The WGA had directed its members to fire their agents over their practice of receiving packaging fees directly from networks and studios, which the Guild regarded as a conflict of interest. The WGA also objected to the agencies’ moves into producing through their own affiliated production entities.

More than 80 other agencies, including many prominent ones, have signed a Code of Conduct promulgated by the WGA, but UTA is the first of the four largest agencies to reach agreement over these issues. The others are WME, CAA and ICM Partners.

According to a note from UTA co-president Jay Sures, the agency is not signing the Code of Conduct, but has reached a negotiated settlement. UTA agreed to eliminate package commissions in two years provided one of the other big four agencies also agrees to do so. It may continue to produce through affiliates, but only with a minority stake and subject to other limitations. It required the WGA to back off on its demand for the agency to send it copies of every writer’s contracts. The Guild and UTA also agreed to dismiss their pending lawsuits against each other.

First a collective bargaining agreement, and now this. It may have taken a pandemic, but progress is possible.