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AFTRA extends contract

Members OK changing network code expiration date

Members of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have ratified a one-year extension to the union’s network code contract, which covers most of its TV work.

Leaders of AFTRA approved taking the step a month ago. The move pushes the expiration of the agreement with the four networks and their production companies to Nov. 15, 2011.

The extension was endorsed by 98% of members at meetings in the five major AFTRA Locals of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington/Baltimore.

The AFTRA network code is the union’s largest contract with more than $400 million in annual earnings and covers mostly non-primetime work such as soaps, talkshows and gameshows. Current programs covered include “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “The Price Is Right,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “American Idol,” “Survivor,” “20/20,” “Deal or No Deal” and “Late Show With David Letterman.”

The extension includes a 2% increase in minimum program fees, including background actors, and a 0.5% increase in employer contributions to the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds — effective Jan. 1 and specifically devoted to the Retirement Fund — which will bring the total contribution rate to 15.6%. Terms covering programs made-for and reused in new media will also be extended for one year and remain unchanged.

AFTRA noted last month that the extension would enable it to focus its resources on prepping for seven weeks of joint negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild in the fall on primetime series work. Start date for those talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers will be Sept. 27; that contract expires on June 30.

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