Hollywood writers to announce strike - report

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LOS ANGELES, Nov 2 (Reuters) The union representing Hollywood screenwriters will announce its first major strike in 20 years today after failing to reach an agreement with producers on a contract renewal, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site.

Writers Guild of America officials told union members during a closed meeting on Thursday that they will issue a press release late the next day detailing strike plans, the paper said. Officials from the WGA were not immediately available for comment.

A lengthy strike will impact television programming and movie production, although Hollywood studios have been stockpiling scripts in the event of a stoppage.

The WGA's three-year contract, covering 12,000 movie and TV writers, expired early on Thursday. Union leaders won approval two weeks ago from members to call a strike if deemed necessary once the contract expired.

The union and producers, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, deadlocked on the key issue of remuneration in the digital age. Writers want more money for DVD sales and Internet downloads, a move fiercely resisted by the studios.

The producers alliance said in a statement that it was not surprised by the WGA announcement.

''We are ready to meet and are prepared to close this contract this weekend,'' it said.

The last major film and television strike was a WGA walkout in 1988 that lasted 22 weeks, delayed the start of the fall TV season and cost the industry an estimated 0 million. The motion picture and TV industry generates billion in annual economic activity for Los Angeles County alone.

Reuters SZ DB1010

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