AFTRA, majors to talk this weekend

Key issues focus on new media, online clips

AFTRA and the majors have decided to try negotiating over the weekend after completing 13 days of negotiations on the union’s primetime contract.

Talks recessed late Friday afternoon and will resume Saturday at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers in Encino. It’s the first weekend session since negotiations began May 7.

The bargaining is taking place under a news blackout but it’s understood that the key issues during the talks have centered on new media and how to compensate performers for online display of their work.

AFTRA decided two months ago to negotiate its deal separately from SAG for the first time in three decades following a bitter jurisdictional fight. Both performers unions have strongly opposed the AMPTP’s proposal for re-use of TV and film clips online.

The majors have asked the thesps to give up the right to approve online use of their images, asserting that under current conditions, the massive levels of pirating have deprived perfomers and companies of significant potential revenues.

The Screen Actors Guild is scheduled to return to negotiations on Wednesday for its feature-primetime negotiations following a three-week recess for the AFTRA talks. Many labor observors believed that the AFTRA talks, which cover about half a dozen shows, would have been completed by this point.

During the recess, SAG leaders have emphasized the clips issue to its members and asserted that actors need to remain in control of the exploitation of their images. For their part, the companies have asserted that the consent requirement would prevent such a business from becoming financially feasible.

Both the SAG and AFTRA contracts expire June 30. The lack of resolution has been troubling to Hollywood, which is still recovering from the 100-day writers strike.

The SAG negotiations covered 18 days. But when they recessed on May 6 over SAG’s objections, major gaps remained on clips, DVDs, product integration and force majeure.

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