SAG, AFTRA to start talks on blurb rates

Actors unions ask for 20% hike

Potentially contentious negotiations over pay rates for television and radio commercials are expected to start today in New York between the advertising industry and two actors unions with 130,000 members.

The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have asked for a 20% hike in residuals for broadcast network ads, along with increases for spots running on cable — for which performers receive a flat fee for unlimited use — and in foreign and Spanish-language markets. The union proposals come three months after SAG members voted in a slate of candidates promising a more aggressive bargaining stance.

The unions and representatives of the ad industry — the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies and the Assn. of National Advertisers — posted their initial proposals on the Web site. The unions have attacked several elements of the advertisers’ proposal, particularly an upfront buyout of $2,045.05 per 13-week cycle that allows for unlimited use of a spot during that period.

“This proposed rollback of network residual payments virtually ignores the problems performers have with the current cable agreement based upon a similar ‘unlimited buyout’ for commercial reuse,” SAG said. “SAG performers are being overexposed on cable, and their talents are being widely exploited to promote products without receiving adequate compensation. Overexposure also makes a performer less desirable to other advertisers when he or she is too strongly identified with a specific brand.”

Advertisers have not commented on the negotiations. The current three-year contract expires March 31.

The schedule calls for a break in talks on Feb. 25 and resumption on March 11. SAG will update members on the negotiations at a Feb. 27 rally at the Hollywood Palladium.

The unions staged rallies in late January at SAG headquarters in Los Angeles and on Thursday at the New York Hilton. Each event drew about 700 people.

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