AFTRA, TV nets reach deal on news staffers

Pact subject to ratification by rank-and-file

The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists has reached a tentative contract deal with ABC, CBS and NBC for network TV news anchors, correspondents and news service personnel.

Pact, covering about 200 employees, is subject to resolution of network radio issues with ABC and CBS, and to ratification voting. Deal comes nearly four months after the Nov. 15 expiration of the current contract, which has been extended.

No further details were disclosed because both sides have agreed to maintain a news blackout until radio negotiations conclude. In mid-November, AFTRA disclosed that progress had been achieved after half a dozen sessions but that major issues, such as severance pay and Internet jurisdiction, had not been resolved.

Web concerns

AFTRA sought Internet coverage to prevent the emergence of a second tier of Web broadcasters not under its jurisdiction, while the nets argued that Web work was simply a money-losing promotional tool that should not be covered. “What we fear,” AFTRA negotiators said prior to the talks, “is that the companies will pay the Web broadcasters far less than we get paid, lower the market rate for broadcasting jobs and then come to us to cut our salaries.”

AFTRA has said that once network news talks conclude, it plans to launch negotiations for several hundred reporters at network-owned stations in Gotham, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia. The pacts, which expired Nov. 15, are negotiated on a market-by-market basis.

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