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Talks Break Off between Script Writers and Producers

March 6, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Talks between script writers and television and movie producers were suspended Saturday night after an all-day bargaining session over the writers’ demands for more money from reruns and artistic control.

Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America met with their counterparts from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in hopes of averting a walkout, authorized by members when earlier talks broke off last week. The writers’ contract expired Wednesday.

Both sides refused comment on whether any progress was made before the 11- hour meeting broke up at 9:10 p.m.

″The main issues are still there, but they’re still talking,″ said Herb Steinberg, a spokesman for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

″I’m not going to describe it, I’m just going to let it go,″ said Cheryl Rhoden, a Writers Guild spokeswoman.

The 9,000 guild writers want more creative control over their scripts and a bigger piece of residual payments from foreign-country reruns, where soaring demand is opening huge markets for American shows. They also want to block a producers’ proposal to limit some residuals from U.S. reruns.

The union postponed a walkout that could have begun Thursday when producers said they were willing to talk further.

Alliance spokesman Herb Steinberg said producers’ negotiators planned mainly to listen Saturday, with some new offers possible Sunday.

First and hardest hit by a writers strike would be daytime soap operas and talk shows because they use the most scripts. Movies and prime-time television programming would be slower to feel the effects because they use fewer scripts and have more lead time.

Meanwhile, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists were scheduled to bargain with makers of TV and radio commercials through the weekend over daily pay rates and rerun payments. The actors’ commercial contract expired Feb. 6 but no strike deadline has been set.

Members of those unions approved a strike by an overwhelming margin in recent votes, SAG spokesman Mark Locher said.

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