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AFTRA low-key on eve of contract talks

Key issues similar to film-TV negotiations, leaders say

HOLLYWOOD — Low-key negotiations between nets and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists are expected start Tuesday, a month before expiration of the union’s current three-year network code pact.

As the launch of talks has approached, AFTRA toppers have taken a notably low-profile tack in prepping the 80,000 members. Specifics of proposals have not been disclosed, with leaders saying key issues will be similar to those in this year’s film-TV negotiations: increases in minimums; higher residuals for Fox Network and foreign TV; and use of materials on the Internet.

Negotiations will open at 2 p.m. at the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers headquarters in Encino, Calif., and are tentatively set to continue for two weeks. If more time is needed, the negotiations would shift to Gotham in early November.

AFTRA’s net code pact generates about $400 million annually and covers broadcasters, daytime soap actors, talkshow and gameshow hosts, sports announcers and performers on syndicated entertainment shows. Its current three-year pact provided a 3% increase in daily pay rates during the first year of the contract and 3.5% increases in each of the second and third years.

AFTRA had suggested several months ago that opening weeks of talks be held at its Los Angeles branch headquarters in Hollywood, but the idea was dropped in favor of the usual Encino site. Its recent joint negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild over their film-TV contract were held at the same site.

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