AFTRA: This could take awhile<sub18></sub18>

Reardon says 'thorny' new-media issues present a challenge

AFTRA has run into "challenging issues" with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers that might not have a "quick or easy" resolution, the performers union president Roberta Reardon told members in an e-mail Monday.

The message comes amid a press blackout during the nine days of talks with producers on the union's primetime TV contract, which started May 7. The contract expires June 6.

"We are confronting a number of challenging issues, and a resolution may not be quick or easy," Reardon wrote. "However, our discussions with the industry have been professional and businesslike, and we remain focused on continuing negotiations in this vein."

Among the most high-profile of those issues: new media and how its members "will participate in original new-media productions, and under what circumstances employers can exploit excerpts from traditional TV programs in new media," Reardon wrote. "The AFTRA negotiating committee is engaged in thoughtful and pragmatic discussions about how to ensure that performers are best protected as we consider these thorny issues."

Additionally, Reardon said AFTRA's negotiating committee "delivered a strong message" that its members will not give up control of the use of its clips in new media. The AMPTP has proposed setting up an online library in which users can download clips for a price. The producers have said it's a good way to fight piracy, but they're asking actors to give up the consent they've long had over the use of clips.

Reardon said AFTRA is mindful "of the hard realities affecting the television business today … and the impact this has on the wages and job opportunities for working performers."

The AMPTP and SAG declined comment. (partialdiff)