Studios offer new proposals to avert writers strike

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Thursday offered a modified package of proposals in a bid to keep fractious negotiations alive six days before the expiration of the writers contract.

The writers and producers have made little progress in negotiating a new contract to replace one that expires Oct. 31, leading many studios to prepare for the first writers strike in nearly two decades.

In an effort to lay the groundwork for a possible agreement with Hollywood’s film and TV writers, producers said they had changed some of their proposals and withdrawn others.

“It is incumbent on each party to find the common ground which will result in an agreement,” said Nick Counter, president of the alliance, which represents the major film and TV studios.

John F. Bowman, chairman of the Writers Guild of America negotiation committee, described the package as “minor adjustments to major rollbacks” and called on producers to “engage with us on the issues that matter in this negotiation.”


Among other things, producers agreed to consult lead writers when products are placed in TV shows, and agreed to raise the ceiling on health and pension plan contributions. They also offered to pull some of their previous proposals in exchange for the Writers Guild dropping some of its demands. They continued, however, to reject key guild demands for higher home video payments and increased residuals for TV shows and movies distributed via the Internet.

The alliance sought to jump-start negotiations last week by removing a controversial proposal to revamp the decades-old residuals payment system. The offer, however, did little to mollify guild leaders.

Talks resume today.