Advertisers’ rep sees new offer as unlikely

Walk out planned for May 1st

The advertising industry’s chief negotiator indicated Monday there is little possibility union actors will receive a counteroffer to avert their planned May 1 strike.

“We had a unanimous vote last week not to put any more offers on the table,” said John McGuinn, who represents the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies and the Assn. of National Advertisers. “So I still don’t have a new offer.”

McGuinn, who had offered a gloomy assessment in late March about the talks, also said Monday that “we were not surprised” by the strike vote and had been expecting the actors to walk out.

Breakdown in talks

Negotiations on a new contract collapsed last week with both sides far apart on key issues such as advertisers’ demand to end the “pay-per-play” system for broadcast network ads and actors’ demand that “pay-per-play” be instituted for cable TV.

The joint eastern boards of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Actors voted unanimously Sunday to set a strike date, and the joint western board is likely to ratify it at a meeting tonight at SAG headquarters in Los Angeles.

Advertisers, in a synopsis released Monday of their “best final offer,” contended that the future of TV is “one of continued erosion of network shares, increasing numbers of networks and increasing numbers of cable networks and consequent splintering of cable audiences.” Therefore, the negotiators wrote, “Network television is becoming more like cable television and the method of payment for commercials should be a fixed amount and not based on uses. Any per use concept of payment is fundamentally flawed.”

On the other hand …

Actors have contended they have not been given a fair share of the entertainment industry’s revenue gains in recent years.

The advertisers’ final offer included raising the rate for on-camera principals to $2,575 from a proposed $2,350, with corresponding hikes for off-camera performers; increasing the session fee to $500 from $478; increasing the extra performers’ rate to $275 from $259; a 60.5% hike in cable rates; and increased Spanish-language rates to $1,500 from $1,399.

Beehive of business activity

Meanwhile, figures released Monday showed that ad producers — who have vowed to continue business as usual if there is a strike — have ramped up off-lot activity in recent weeks in the Los Angeles area.

Commercial shoots rose 25.7% during the first 17 days of April to 342 days, compared with 272 days in the same period last year, according to permits filed with the Entertainment Industry Development Corp.

An EIDC representative said it was uncertain if the rise was due to advertisers anticipating a strike or represented nothing more than continued strong performance by the sector locally.

For the entire year thus far, commercial production is up 10% to 2,160 production days.

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