The Hollywood writers' strike could be nearing a close after union representatives and studio heads met for productive discussions.

Members of the Writers' Guild of America (WGA) have been on strike since November 5th after a dispute with production houses regarding royalty payments.

Topical comedy shows such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart were forced to postpone production as their writers protested for a greater share of the revenue generated when their work is distributed on DVD, the internet and mobile telephones.

But after two days of talks, the WGA has issued a statement which suggests the dispute may be nearing a close.

"For the last two days, we have had substantive discussions of the issues important to writers, the first time this has occurred in this negotiation," the guild said.

The writers had dismissed an offer made last week by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) as insufficient, after the studios proposed a flat $250 (£124) payment for a year's use of an hour-long TV show on the internet.

WGA members are generally paid around $20,000 (£9,900) for a single repeat of an episode on one broadcasting network.

But a statement from the AMPTP suggested the group may be willing to concede more ground.

"We remain committed to making a fair and reasonable deal," it said. "We believe there is common ground to be found between the two sides that will put all of us in the entertainment industry in a better position to survive and prosper in what is a rapidly changing modern, global marketplace."

The five-week strike has become the most costly crisis to hit the US film and TV industry in almost 20 years.

06/12/2007 10:28:37