Studios say they will support efforts by the Writers Guild of America to ensure that screenwriters are paid on time.

The Writers Guild of America, West announced this week that it was working with talent agents on a joint project to "address the chronic problem of late payment to screenwriters" to "change the culture of late pay that persists in Hollywood."

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major film and television studios, expressed support Thursday for the union's so-called late-pay initiative.

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“We agree with the Writers Guild of America that writers should be paid on time," the alliance said in a statement. "We pledge our cooperation to address compliance in this important area. We encourage the Guild to advise us of instances when writers have not received timely payments in accordance with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.”

The union's main bargaining agreement requires payment to the writer within seven days after delivery of literary material to the person identified in the writer’s contract.

But the guild maintains that companies often violate that requirement. To remedy matters, the union will work with the Assn. of Talent Agents on a voluntary system to track when screenwriters deliver their literary material and to determine whether they have been paid on time.

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"We are grateful to our franchised agents for their partnership in this program," WGA, West President Chris Keyser and Executive Director David Young said in a statement posted on the guild's website.

"Systematic late pay is a violation of our contract and one of the key sources of discontent that you identified in the 2012 Screen Survey," the union officials wrote to their colleagues. "With this initiative, we hope that we have taken an important step to make it a thing of the past."

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Twitter: @rverrier

richard.verrier@latimes.com