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Hollywood studios said Friday that striking writers have now lost more in salary and benefits than they had hoped to gain by walking off the job.
In the message posted on its Web site and YouTube, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers claimed losses by writers in the eight-week strike have exceeded $151 million.
That's the price tag the Writers Guild of America put on its proposed three-year deal with studios.
"The strike continues because the union's leaders are focused on jurisdictional issues that would expand their own power, at the expense of the new media issues that working writers care most about," the alliance said in a statement.
Compensation for work distributed via the Internet and other digital media has been central to the contract dispute. The guild also has called for unionization of writers working on reality shows and animation.
The union responded by saying the contract proposals by the big studios would cause writers even more economic harm in the future.
"To sidestep this fact, they erroneously claim we are focused on other issues," the guild said in a statement. "The conglomerates are responsible for creating the economic havoc. They should put their energies into making a fair deal with writers rather than issuing misleading statements."
The strike that began Nov. 5 has also been costly for other industry workers. Production has been shut down on dozens of TV shows, with losses for crew members exceeding $250 million, according to the alliance message.
The alliance Web site features a constantly updated ticker with the studios' estimate of writers' losses. The figure is based on West Coast guild data from 2006, the site said.
Talks broke down Dec. 7 after the union rejected an alliance demand that a half-dozen guild proposals be taken off the table, including jurisdiction over reality and animation writers.
While negotiations with the writers union are at a standstill, studios are preparing to begin contract talks with the Directors Guild of America, perhaps next month.
Digital compensation also is expected to be a key issue for directors.
Whether a deal by directors will affect the writers dispute is unclear. The guilds traditionally have followed a practice of pattern bargaining, with one contract considered a template for others.
But the writers guild has said previously that it wishes the directors well, but noted they "do not represent writers. Our strike will end when the companies return to negotiations and make a fair deal with the WGA."
The directors guild has gone on strike only once, for just five minutes in 1987.
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Writers Guild of America, West:
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Studios say writers losses exceed amount sought in new contract
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