Talks to end Hollywood writers' strike break off

2007-12-08 12:25:07 Xinhua English

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Talks between Hollywood writers and studios have collapsed, dashing hopes of an imminent resolution to a 5-week-old strike that has upended the entertainment industry, sources close to the talks said on Saturday.

 It comes after eight days of contentious negotiations that yielded very little, if any, progress, said the sources who refused to be named.

Both sides issued statements, accusing the other of stalling the negotiations.

At the talks, studio officials submitted additional proposals to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in hopes of ending the 33-day-old writers' strike.

In a letter to writers, Patric Verrone, president of WGA, West, and Michael Winship, president of WGA, East, said they want to see negotiations continue without interruption through Christmas and New Year's holidays, but the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) blocked progress of the talks.

"The Writers Guild will remain at the table every day, for as long as it takes, to make a fair deal," they wrote.

They also told guild members that producers were prolonging the strike by refusing to make any new offers.

"For one, we've heard that one or more of the companies are prepared to throw away the spring and fall TV season, plus features, and prolong the strike. Aside from the devastating effect this would have on the unions, workers and their families in this industry, it would certainly explain the AMPTP's refusal to put any new proposals, even a bad one, on the table," they wrote.

But the AMPTP insisted the guild letter contains a series of factual mistakes.

The AMPTP, which represents the studios, said it was "puzzled and disheartened by an ongoing WGA negotiating strategy that seems designed to delay or derail talks rather than facilitate an end to this strike."

"The producers did present a new proposal, the New Economic Partnership, which would increase the average working writer's salary to more than 230,000 dollars a year. The WGA's organizers have rejected the proposal, preferring instead to focus on jurisdictional issues in the areas of reality and animation television," according to the AMPTP's statement.

Producers also accused WGA organizers of spending "relatively little" time at the negotiating table.

The strike began Nov. 5, with the dispute focusing on how to split up new media revenues as digital technology and the Internet transform the way entertainment is delivered to viewers.

The WGA's chief negotiator, David Young, said in an interview: "What they want us to do is give up our future, particularly in new media .... The other side doesn't view us as partners, they just view us as someone they can play with."

If talks don't resume soon, the strike will have far-reaching consequences across Hollywood and for many businesses throughout the region that depend on the industry.