LOS ANGELES – Members of the writers guild have overwhelmingly approved a new contract with Hollywood studios that increases payment for shows offered on the Internet, the union said Tuesday.
The deal was endorsed by 93.6 percent of the 4,060 votes cast in Los Angeles and New York.
"This contract is a new beginning for writers in the digital age," said Patric M. Verrone, president of the guild's western branch.
"It ensures that guild members will be fairly compensated for the content they create for the Internet, and it also covers the reuse on new media platforms of the work they have done in film since 1971 and in TV since 1977," he said.
The term of the three-year deal runs from last Feb. 13 to May 1, 2011.
The contract was approved through.a mail-in ballot that came after members were briefed two weeks ago and agreed to end the 100-day strike that devastated the entertainment industry.
Under the contract, writers will get a maximum flat fee of about $1,200 for programs streamed on the Internet during the deal's first two years and then get 2 percent of a distributor's gross in year three.
The deal also establishes guild jurisdiction for shows made for the Internet and other new media.
The writers strike halted most TV production and took an estimated $2.5 billion toll on the Los Angeles area economy.
The guild has about 10,500 members who were affected by the walkout.
Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney and a former associate counsel for the writers guild, said he was surprised by the relatively low number of guild members who voted.
"I think a lot of people are not happy with the deal but realized it's the best they could get," he said.
Still, it "ties a bow on a difficult period for Hollywood labor," he said.