Negotiations enter their sixth week

Federal mediators have joined commercial contract talks between union actors and advertisers, with negotiations in their sixth week.

Two representatives from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service met with negotiators Thursday after both sides agreed to bring the agency into the discussions at the Sheraton Manhattan in New York. Negotiations are scheduled to resume today and may continue into the weekend.

Both sides agreed March 31 to an open-ended extension of the contract. Members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have granted strike authorization to negotiators if talks collapse. The unions have scheduled joint national board meetings Sunday in New York and Tuesday in Los Angeles.

“Mediation can be an extremely effective tool,” AFTRA national president Shelby Scott said, “and we welcome any chance of achieving a fair contract without a strike.”

SAG president William Daniels said, “I feel confident that our team was able to relay the importance and validity of our needs and goals.”

In the Hollywood area, activists with SAG and AFTRA displayed large signs at freeway overpasses Thursday that read “No rollbacks.”

The advertisers, repped by the Assn. of National Advertisers and the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies, seek to end the “pay per play” system for showings of ads on broadcast networks in exchange for a flat fee, while the unions are seeking to implement pay-per-play for cable ads.

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