AFTRA, AMPTP sign tentative deal

Actors retain consent over clips

After burning the midnight oil Tuesday into Wednesday morning, AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have reached a tentative three-year deal on the union's primetime TV contract.

Included in the deal is the continued consent of using actors clips outside the scope of promotional use, an issue that was a major stumbling block for both sides during the negotiations, which started May 7.

In the area of new media, AFTRA struck a similar deal to the WGA and DGA contracts but left by the wayside its attempts, like the other unions, to get increases in the DVD area.

The contract covers a dozen shows in primetime and cable, including "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Flight of the Conchords" and "Rules of Engagement," and must be approved by AFTRA's national board and ratified by its members before taking effect. The current contract expires June 30.

The tentative agreement includes establishing jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet and in new media as well as creating a new residual structure for paid Internet downloads which AFTRA says significantly increases the current rates and establishes a residual platform for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the web.

"This is a challenging time in the entertainment industry and this was a tough negotiation," AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said in a statement. "We recognized the hard realities currently affecting the traditional TV business and we focused on creating framework that would allow union members to participate fully in the emerging new media marketplace."

The contract also establishes wage increases in traditional media over the next three years and includes an increase in employer contributions to AFTRA's health and retirement plan.

In a statement, the AMPTP said both sides were "challenged during these talks to find a way to fairly and sensibly tailor our industry's new media framework to meet the needs of actors. As a result of compromise and creativity by both parties, we reached an agreement that makes the new media framework work for all actors."

Now that AFTRA has come to an agreement, SAG is expected to start up its negotiations again with the AMPTP. Talks were suspended May 6 after both sides were unable to reach an agreement and AFTRA was slated to begin its formal negotiations the following after it had twice postponed bargaining to let SAG continue.

"We now look forward to the resumption of talks with SAG, to building on the foundation laid during our first round of SAG talks, and to reaching an agreement that will prevent another harmful and unnecessary strike," the AMPTP said.

Now that AFTRA has come to an agreement, SAG is set to start talks at 10 a.m. Wednesday at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks.

Talks were suspended May 6 after both sides were unable to reach an agreement and AFTRA was slated to begin its formal negotiations the following day, after it had twice postponed its bargaining sessions to let SAG continue.

"We now look forward to the resumption of talks with SAG, to building on the foundation laid during our first round of SAG talks, and to reaching an agreement that will prevent another harmful and unnecessary strike," the AMPTP said.

In a statement, SAG president Alan Rosenberg said he did not know the details of the tentative AFTRA/AMPTP deal but, along with staff, "thoroughly analyze and evaluate the principles" of the deal.

"We look forward to receiving an update from AFTRA staff regarding the negotiations as soon as possible," he added. "We look forward to hearing more during a face-to-face briefing with AFTRA's negotiating committee as soon as AFTRA provides the opportunity."

Rosenberg added with the actors' union remains committed to negotiating the best deal for its members, of which 44,000 are also members of AFTRA.
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