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Hollywood writers in strike talks

20 September 07 09:51 GMT

Talks have resumed in Hollywood to try to head off possible strike action by film and TV screenwriters.

The writers disagree with Hollywood executives over the terms of a new three-year contract, with the current agreement running out on 31 October.

Screenwriters last walked off the job in 1988, delaying TV series and costing a reported $500m (£249m).

The Writers Guild of America wants members to be paid when their work is used on the internet and mobile phones.

The guild says "residuals", payments made when work is repeated or used on DVDs, should be extended to digital content.

But the studios say that would damage the industry at a time when costs are rising and competition is getting tighter. They want payments to be triggered only when production and marketing costs are recovered.

Although no strike threat has been issued by the union, Dreamworks Animation's chief executive, Jeffrey Katzenberg, said earlier this week he was worried a compromise would not be possible.

"I'm fearful that the gap is too great. Everybody would be impacted by a strike, us included," he said.

The studios accused the union of intransigence after Wednesday's talks, the first after a nine-week break to consider proposals.

"With two months to respond to our proposals, we were once again rebuffed with little or no explanation," said the head of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, Nick Counter.

He said the guild had a "total disregard for the true state of the industry and its fundamental economics".

The guild declined to comment. Talks resume at its headquarters on Thursday.

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.

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