'Pay-per-play' system to replace upfront buyout

Contract talks between union actors and advertisers reached a key stage Tuesday as negotiators focused on union proposals to change the structure of cable television residuals.

The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists are demanding that a “pay-per-play” system be created for cable to replace an upfront buyout with unlimited re-use. Advertisers are offering a 15% pay hike.

Actors have long complained they are short-changed under the current system because payments do not reflect cable’s growth, and they point out that cable stations run the same ads excessively, resulting in over-exposure for individual performers.

SAG and AFTRA had presented specifics of the proposal in late March and advertisers — represented by the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies and the Assn. of National Advertisers — began discussing their response Tuesday.

Negotiators at the talks in New York, now in their sixth week, have not yet taken up the question of compensation for ads on the Internet, a critical issue for AFTRA members.

SAG and AFTRA also announced Tuesday they have received letters of support from 10 separate labor organizations, including the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Actors Equity Assn., the Writers Guild of America West and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists. Thor Bishopric, leader of the Canadian union, has pledged that his organization’s 15,000 members will be instructed not to accept work from the targeted advertisers if a strike is called.

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