Hopes have been raised of a breakthrough in negotiations between striking Hollywood writers and studio executives.

According to the Associated Press news agency, Writers' Guild of American (WGA) representatives and production companies are nearing a deal regarding the crucial issue of royalty payments for the distribution of films and television programmes on the internet.

WGA members have been on strike since November 5th after talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) over royalties for the redistribution of their works stalled.

Last month's Golden Globes ceremony was cancelled after fears that actors would refuse to cross the writers' picket line and the fate of the 80th Academy awards show later this month still remains in question.

Both the New York Times and industry newspaper Variety have reported that the progress made in Friday's talks could allow the two sides to announce a formal deal within days, subject to a vote from more than 10,000 active WGA members.

Discussions involving WGA negotiating committee head John Bowman, WGA West executive director David Young, News Corp president Peter Chernin and Walt Disney company chief executive Robert Iger were reported to have gone progressed well on Friday, continuing on Saturday and leading to a tentative agreement regarding online royalties.

The United Hollywood blog reports that "creative solutions to the biggest differences between the AMPTP and the WGA have gotten the tentative and cautious approval of both sides."

The WGA last week signed an interim agreement with The Producers of the Grammy Awards ceremony, allowing this year's ceremony to go ahead as planned.

03/02/2008 12:27:44