SAG, AFTRA seek blurb pact extension

Boards of both unions have approved extensions

Leaders of Hollywood’s performers unions are seeking from the advertising industry a one-year extension of the current commercials pact, which would move the expiration back to March 31, 2013.

The national board of the Screen Actors Guild approved the move at its meeting Saturday, and AFTRA’s national board OK’d the extension Wednesday following a staff recommendation.

The ad industry and SAG had no comment, but the extension would allow the unions to hold a vote next year on merging before holding negotiations on the ad deal, which covers $1 billion in annual blurb work.

AFTRA issued a wide-ranging news release that included the disclosure of the extension Wednesday at the conclusion of a two-day board meeting in Seattle, prior to the union’s three-day national convention.

The unions and the ad industry are in the final eight months of a three-year deal reached in 2009. The current agreement represented a $36 million pay hike over three years, including $21 million more in pension and health contributions.

The commercials contract covers nearly $1 billion in annual blurb work. For the unions, the key gains came in establishment of a payment structure for work made for and moved over to the Internet and other new-media platforms and maintaining the method of pay-per-play payment for ads run on network (also known as the “Class A” payment structure). The ad contract also calls for the unions and producers to commission a two-year pilot study by a consultant to test a revamp of compensation based on ratings rather than the current pay-per-play model.

AFTRA also said Wednesday that its board had approved proposals for its sound recordings and network code deals. Negotiations with the major music labels have been set to start on Aug. 15 in New York with a Dec. 31 expiration. A start date for the net code talks has not been set with that pact — AFTRA’s largest contract with over $400 million in annual earnings — expiring Nov. 15.

AFTRA agreed with the four networks and their production companies a year ago to a one-year extension to the net code contract until Nov. 15. The net code covers work outside primetime and includes “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “The Price is Right,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “American Idol,” “Monday Night Football,” “Survivor,” “20/20,” “Deal or No Deal” and “The Late Show with David Letterman,” among many others.

The national board unanimously approved sending a resolution to the convention affirming its “commitment to the process of uniting AFTRA and SAG” into a “strong, unified successor union committed to organizing.”Reps for both unions are in the process of hammering out a merger proposal by January.

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