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Striking Hollywood writers reject new offer

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Striking Hollywood writers have rejected a new contract offer from producers, the two sides say, three weeks into a dispute that has disrupted the film and television industry.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) says it has offered an additional $US130 million ($148 million) in compensation a year to the 12,000 writers, who, according to producers, currently earn $1.3 billion ($1.48 billion) annually.

The alliance, which has been in secret negotiations with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) since Monday, says the union has asked for time to study the offer.

"While we strongly preferred to continue discussions, we respect and understand the WGA's desire to review the proposal. We look forward to resuming talks on Tuesday," the alliance said in a statement.

But the 12,000-strong WGA rejected the offer, describing it as a "massive rollback," and called on members to continue picketing.

"The AMPTP's intractability is dispiriting news, but it also must be motivating," the guild said in a statement.

"We must fight on, returning to the lines on Monday in force to make it clear that we will not back down, that we will not accept a bad deal and that we are all in this together."

Writers walked off the job on November 5 after the producers association rejected their demands for a greater share of profits from internet and new media sales.

It is the first strike by the writers' union in nearly 20 years. The dispute has already led to production being halted on television shows like Desperate Housewives, as well as the postponement of the latest season of drama 24.

Although major Hollywood films studios were reported to have insulated themselves against the short-term effects of the strike by stockpiling finished scripts, plans for films due for release in 2009 have been affected.

Popular late-night chat shows hosted by Jay Leno and David Letterman have also shut down.

While the Hollywood writers remain on strike, Broadway stagehands ended a 19-day walkout on Thursday (local time) and several popular musicals reopened. © 2007 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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