The Writers Guild of America appears close to settling a strike that has put re-runs on the television sets and computer screens of millions of Americans for nearly four months.
Union leaders suspended picketing and called for a vote on whether to end the writers' strike Tuesday. A second vote will take place on whether to accept a proposed contract. The WGA said it has settled disagreements over earnings from digital media.
The three-year contract would provide residual payments for digital broadcasts. Writers will receive 2% of the gross receipts that retailers earn from advertising that supports content distributed via the Internet. That provision takes effect during the third year of the contract. Streaming video is exempt for 24 days after a show's original release to allow some leeway for digital video recording.
"When they get paid, we get paid,'" Patric Verrone, president of WGA's West chapter, said during a press conference over the weekend.
WGA leaders characterized the deal as a victory for union members, even though the strike and negotiations failed to draw animators and reality television show writers into the union's fold. That was one of the main goals of the strike, but more weight was placed on ensuring that writers continue to profit from their work, which is increasingly distributed over computer networks, rather than airwaves.
The new deal, tentatively approved by Hollywood producers and union leaders, goes to the union membership for a vote. Union leaders said they believe their members will approve the contract.
Members will be allowed to vote by proxy, so contract approval could take nearly two weeks. Still, screenwriters could return to work as early as Wednesday.