Primetime negotations show signs of progress

AFTRA and the majors will continue negotiating on Sunday on the union’s primetime contract, following the first Saturday session.

The 14th day of talks took place Saturday at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers in Encino.

The move to keep talking during a holiday weekend may be a strong signal of progress — though talks, which launched May 7, have been taking place under a news blackout. It’s widely believed that the key issues centered on new media and specifically on a proposal by the AMPTP to compensate performers for online display of clips from TV work.

In AFTRA’s only public statement during the negotiations, the performers union issued a strong statement last Monday opposing the companies’ clips proposal — which calls for allowing companies to license clips without performers’ consent.  

AFTRA is negotiating its deal separately from SAG for the first time in three decades following a bitter jurisdictional fight. SAG, which is slated to resume its talks on Wednesday, has also strongly opposed the AMPTP’s proposal for re-use of TV and film clips online.

The majors have asserted that they may be able to start a viable business in clips if the unions will relent on the consent issue. The AMPTP has noted that the massive levels of online pirating have deprived perfomers and companies of significant potential revenues.

Both the SAG and AFTRA contracts expire June 30. The town remains on yellow alert about a possible actors strike.

SAG negotiatied with the AMPTP for 18 days, then objected when the majors recessed on May 6 to turn to the twice-delayed AFTRA talks. SAG insisted it was near a deal but has since noted that major gaps remained on clips, DVDs, product integration and force majeure.

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