The Hollywood writers' strike could be nearing a conclusion after a directors' union established a new contract agreement with film and television studios.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) have been on strike for ten weeks over a dispute with studios regarding royalty payments when writers' work is redistributed on mobile phones, DVD or the internet.

Hollywood has been crippled by the strike with production halted on numerous movie and TV shows and award ceremonies such as the Golden Globes and the People's Choice awards scaled back after actors pledged not to cross the WGA picket line.

But after the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached an agreement after just five days of negotiations, hopes have been raised of a conclusion to the WGA's industrial action.

"Two words describe this agreement - groundbreaking and substantial," said Gil Cates, chair of the DGA's negotiations committee, following the conclusion of talks.

"The gains in this contract for directors and their teams are extraordinary - and there are no rollbacks of any kind."

The agreement has established a residuals formula for internet downloads of films and TV shows, essentially doubling the current of payment as well as increasing DGA control over programmes produced for online distribution and establishing residual rates for streaming content.

"This was a very difficult negotiation that required real give and take on both sides," said DGA president Michael Apted said in a subsequent statement.

"Nonetheless, we managed to produce an agreement that enshrines the two fundamental principles we regard as absolutely crucial to any employment and compensation agreement in this digital age: First, jurisdiction is essential. Without secure jurisdiction over new-media production - both derivative and original - compensation formulas are meaningless.

"Second, the internet is not free. We must receive fair compensation for the use and reuse of our work on the internet, whether it was originally created for other media platforms or expressly for online distribution."

WGA representatives have not yet issued any formal response to the news.

18/01/2008 09:05:43