LOS ANGELES – Hollywood writers have a revision ready for TV and movie producers.
Contract talks resumed on Wednesday, with the Writers Guild of America ready to submit a revamped contract proposal with the hope of avoiding a strike after the current pact expires at midnight.
Details of the proposal were not released.
Producers said they would consider the revision but won't agree to anything that would restrict their ability to experiment with new Internet and other digital delivery options for films and TV shows.
"We will not ignore the challenges of today's economic realities, the shifts in audience taste and viewing habits, and the unpredictability of still-evolving technology," the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said in a prepared statement.
A key issue in negotiations involves giving writers more money from the sale of DVDs and the distribution of shows via the Internet, cell phones and other digital platforms.
A federal mediator joined the talks for a second day.
It was unclear when writers might walk off the job if a new deal isn't reached. More than 5,000 guild members recently voted, with 90 percent authorizing negotiators to call the first strike since 1988, if necessary.
The union has set a meeting of its 12,000 members for Thursday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Jonathan Handel, an entertainment lawyer who served in the 1990s as an associate counsel for the writers guild, said it was in the union's interest to delay a walkout, perhaps by five days or more.
"The writers guild has two weapons: One is a strike, the other is the threat of a strike. It has no reason to toss that weapon away without using it for a bit," Handel said.
The WGA also has to be wary of bad publicity.
"If the guild waits, it's easier to use the presence of the mediator to its advantage." Handel said. "It can say, `Even with the mediator in the room, the studios are refusing to make a decent deal."'
A strike by writers would not immediately have an impact on film or primetime TV production. Most shows have enough scripts in hand to get them though early next year.
After that, networks might turn to reality shows, news programs and reruns to fill the airwaves.
Major Hollywood unions have lined up behind the writers.
Teamsters Local 399 said in a Web posting that as a union, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts with producers. But the local, which represents truck drivers, casting directors and location managers, said the clause does not apply to individuals, who are protected by federal law from employer retribution if they decide to honor picket lines.
Members of the Screen Actors Guild have also voiced strong support for writers, but officials with that union have said its 150,000 members were obligated to report to work if writers strike.