Striking Writers Reach Tentative Deal

The chief negotiators for the striking Writers Guild of America are recommending that the members accept the terms of an agreement reached with the seven major media conglomerates represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

If the members accept the contract it is possible that popular television shows from "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC), "CSI" (CBS) and "Heroes" (NBC) could go back into production and finish the television season with new episodes.

Describing the agreement as "neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve," Patric Verrone and Michael Winship, respectively presidents of the Writers Guild West and East, said, "We believe that continuing to strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle this strike."

The agreement guarantees that writers will receive residuals for work that appears on the Internet or other new media such as cell phones. But if the Internet becomes the primary means for displaying what is now known as television, writers will make considerably less money when their work is replayed.

Writers say that residual payments for previous work is the lifeblood that keeps them in the business between jobs.

The three-month strike has shut down most television production and is beginning to affect the movie industry. By some estimates it has resulted in $1.9 billion in lost wages as everyone from writers to prop men and caterers have been put out of work on both coasts.

The WGA has scheduled meetings today in New York and Hollywood to present the deal to the general membership and get their opinions. But the writers already are speaking up on the Internet. This by a strike captain posted on the site "United Hollywood": "We've been polling our teams. Some of the Captains have reported that a majority of their teams feel that if the deal isn't right, the strike should continue."

A potential sticking point is a window of up to 24 days in which television programs that have already aired can be streamed on the Internet without paying a residual to the writers.

Both the officers of the WGA and the writers have been hoping to end the strike in time to save the end of the television season. If the WGA negotiators and board sense that the membership will accept the contract, the strike order could be lifted as soon as Sunday, and writers could go back to work Monday.