Hit US television series such as Heroes and Grey's Anatomy could be threatened by a strike of Hollywood screenwriters.
The screenwriters' current contract runs out at the end of October
Los Angeles-based writers are poised to take action over the terms of a new three-year contract, with the current agreement running out on 31 October.
The Writers Guild of America wants its members to receive payment when their work is featured on the internet and via mobile phones.
Broadcasters are preparing to screen reality shows if the strike goes ahead.
Screenwriters last took industrial action in 1988, delaying TV series and costing a reported $500m (£249m).
If writers walk out, the effect would not be felt immediately as TV networks have enough episodes of shows written and in production to last until the end of the year, industry executives and analysts said.
But after that, schedules will run into trouble.
US viewers could start seeing an onslaught of repeats, game and reality shows when TV shows run out of new episodes.
The next Bond film is due for release in 2009
A prolonged writers strike could also affect next year's TV season as pilots for next autumn are being written now.
Hollywood film production is also expected to be hit, but would not suffer the effects of even a prolonged strike immediately because of the long time required to make films.
But movie studios could soon be wrestling with plots and endings for unfinished 2008/9 blockbusters such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the next James Bond instalment.
Negotiations are set to resume later at the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers offices in Los Angeles.
The outcome of any talks between writers and the studios will set the stage for discussions with actors, whose deal runs out at the end of June 2008.