The Writers Guild of America and the major studios with which it is negotiating appear to have moved closer to a deal that would avert a strike, with the studios increasing their offers on several contentious issues, including the writers’ health fund, it was reported Monday.

But no deal has been announced so far and a strike could still happen if both sides fail to reach an agreement by midnight Monday evening, when the writers’ current contract expires, the Los Angeles Times reported. A strike would affect nearly 13,000 film and TV writers and cause widespread disruption in Hollywood.

The WGA is negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major studios and networks.

The parties made significant progress over the weekend in addressing some of the major sticking points that prompted the WGA to seek a strike authorization vote from members last week. The vote was overwhelmingly approved by 96 percent of the members who voted.

The AMPTP Sunday bumped up its offer to the WGA’s health plan, making a “substantial increase” to the $60 million offered in the alliance’s previous proposal, a person familiar with the situation told The Times.

The guild’s health plan is viewed as one of the most generous in the industry, but it faces financial shortfalls, with the guild projecting mounting deficits in the years ahead, The Times reported.

The AMPTP has also increased its offers on other issues, including the length of TV seasons and writer exclusivity, according to the newspaper. The shrinking TV season, accelerated by the move toward streaming, has reduced earnings for writers and has been a major concern for the union. Writers are also constrained by exclusivity clauses, which prevent many of them from working on more than one show per season.

Both the WGA and the AMPTP have imposed a media blackout on the negotiations. But the down-to-the-wire negotiations over the weekend and the fact that the sides are expected to resume talks Monday suggested they could be closing in on a deal on a new three-year contract, according to The Times.

—City News Service

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