Another add-on for ads contract

SAG and AFTRA agree to six-month extension

NEW YORK -- SAG and AFTRA have agreed to another six-month extension of their commercials contract with two ad industry groups.

The latest add-on follows a previous two-year extension to an October 2006 deal that was set to expire Oct. 29.

The first extension was made to give time for a study on online compensation that was conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton. Details of the study haven't been made public.

The latest extension comes with SAG stuck in a stalemate with the studios and networks over a new television and film contract, which expired June 30. There are several outstanding issues remaining, most notably compensation and jurisdiction for work in new media.

Another major sticking point is SAG's fractured relationship with AFTRA, with which it has bargained almost all of its major contracts for nearly three decades under an agreement known as Phase One. The joint bargaining relationship fell apart in late March, the culmination of a long, bitter feud between the unions.

After the relationship came apart, AFTRA negotiated its own primetime TV contract with producers, one that included the same new-media provisions accepted by the WGA and DGA but rejected by SAG.

"Today's announcement only deals with the extension," AFTRA spokesman John Hinrichs said. "A decision on Phase One and joint negotiations has to be decided by the AFTRA national board."

If the two unions do decide to negotiate a new commercials pact under Phase One, they would need time to meet with members, known as the wages and working conditions process.

"I think it's great news," said Sam Freed, president of SAG's New York board and the guild's second national vp. "Because we've been preoccupied with TV/Theatrical negotiations, we haven't been able to begin the process of (wages and working conditions) in a timely way. We need the membership to be involved as much as they can. We need to know what they're finding out on the street in their day-to-day work lives. We also have to educate them on the new aspects of this contract, on how the Internet has changed the landscape of advertising.

"These commercials contracts were established when there were only three networks." Freed added. "They've obviously changed over the years to incorporate cable, but now it's changing so rapidly it's hard for the guild to keep up."

The first commercials contract extension provided wage boosts, but the latest add-on simply extends those terms. SAG and AFTRA negotiated the 2006 commercials agreement with a joint committee representing the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers.
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