AFTRA, agent talks move ahead

Bargaining expected to resume in upcoming weeks

HOLLYWOOD — The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists has made progress in talks with Hollywood agents to revamp its franchise agreement, with bargaining expected to resume within a few weeks.

“We are satisfied with the progress we are making and are looking for dates so we can keep moving forward,” said AFTRA prexy John Connolly. Negotiations took place last week at several locations in Los Angeles.

AFTRA and the Assn. of Talent Agents launched the talks in the fall to examine provisions of Rule 12-B, which contains financial interest restrictions similar to those of the current Screen Actors Guild-ATA agreement. SAG negotiators agreed in February to allow up to 20% investment by ad agencies, advertisers and indie producers in talent agencies in a deal that still must be approved by SAG members.

Backers of the SAG-ATA deal are likely to point to the progress in AFTRA’s talks as a reason for SAG members to support the pact. Even though SAG and AFTRA negotiate film-TV contracts jointly, SAG has jurisdiction in movies and primetime TV.

AFTRA and ATA have refused to comment on the substance of their talks. In addition to easing ownership restrictions, the SAG-ATA deal will open two areas of actor revenues to agent commissions. In return, agents will pledge to help actors on runaway production and a new Actors Benefit Fund will receive significant contributions based on 1.5% of the investments in agencies and 12.5%-50% of the new commissions.

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