AFTRA closer to primetime negotiations with SAG

Org to create committee to explore possibilities

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has taken a small step toward joint negotiations with SAG on primetime TV.

AFTRA’s strategy cabinet voted Sunday to create a committee to explore that possibility.

The move signals better relations between the two performers unions, which have battled for years over jurisdiction and strategies. In March, 2008, AFTRA leaders angrily split from joint talks with SAG on primetime following a dispute over actors wanting to switch jurisdiction over a soap opera from AFTRA to the Screen Actors Guild.

That led to AFTRA concluding a deal a year before SAG in July 2008 — despite SAG’s fervent opposition to ratification. SAG, which was still controlled by the more assertive Membership First faction, contended that the AFTRA deal fell short in new media compensation.

Control of SAG has shifted since then to a more moderate faction, which reached the same deal on primetime as AFTRA’s last June.

That faction has pledged to seek better relations with AFTRA.

Both primetime deals expire in June, 2011. SAG is obligated to begin talks with the companies in October for seven weeks; AFTRA’s talks have not been set.

Before the 2008 split, the two unions – which jurisdiction on primetime shows shot on digital — had negotiated jointly for three decades.

Neither union had a comment Sunday.

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