UPDATE: I’m told that AFTRA’s New Media deal terms are the exact same offered by the networks-&-studios group to SAG on Day 1 of their negotiations last month. So AFTRA negotiated with the networks and studios for 16 days only to obtain what SAG flatly rejected. So that was heavy duty bargaining by AFTRA, eh? It’s also the same exact deal (minus the clips issue) which the AMPTP made with the WGA. See also my AFTRA Skedaddles To Avoid Briefing SAG.

The AFTRA-AMPTP deal closed very early this morning (while I was still asleep). First, here is AFTRA’s press release and fact sheet about it, followed by the AMPTP’s statement and then SAG’s statement. But, in looking it over, I can see right away that AFTRA gave away major concessions when it came to the all-important clips issue by failing to do the heavy-lifting negotiating with the AMPTP and thus leaving all the power over it with the moguls for the next 3 years (and probably in perpetuity).

Just look at what AFTRA failed to wrought re clips in New Media. First, all AFTRA members must now “bargain for consent for the right to use non-promotional excerpts of traditional TV shows in New Media at the time of original employment” with the Hollywood studios and networks for programs produced made after July 1, 2008, which basically leaves AFTRA members powerless and unprotected. But also the new deal doesn’t even outline a formal AFTRA-AMPTP agreement on the issue of clips in New Media, instead leaving it up in the air with the terms still to be determined, as evident by this ridiculous language: the pact “provides that the employers and AFTRA develop a mechanism by which performers can provide or withhold consent for non-promotional use of excerpts for New Media from the industry employers’ TV library.”

Seriously, who is AFTRA kidding? Their members, obviously.

That so-called “creative solution” promised by AFTRA prez Roberta Reardon was nothing more than no solution. Instead of going to the mat on this issue, AFTRA just played dead. Yeah, great union. By contrast, I am assured by SAG insiders that their bigger actors union is indeed going to pin down the studios and networks over clips. As I’ve said before, SAG recognizes that any breach in the wall around clips is a disaster. And there is no way actors should cave on this just so retiring AMPTP prez Nick Counter can have a last hurrah at their expense.

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The rest of the AFTRA-AMPTP deal points pertaining to New Media are just the same warmed-over terms negotiated by the previous guilds. Why in the world did this take 17 days for Reardon et al to “negotiate”? I say, 90 minutes — tops. At least SAG wants to improve on the DVD and New Media formulas. AFTRA didn’t even attempt that. Sheesh.

LOS ANGELES (May 28, 2008) – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists—the nation’s second largest performers’ union, representing 70,000 members, including approximately 52,000 working actors—has reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on a new three-year primetime television contract (Exhibit A of the AFTRA Network Television Code). The agreement is subject to approval by AFTRA’s National Board and ratification by the union’s membership.Highlights of the new agreement include:
— Establishing wage increases in traditional media in each year of the contract.
— Increasing employer contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement plan.
— Establishing jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet and New Media.
— Establishing new residual structures for paid Internet downloads (electronic sell-through) that significantly increase current rates and establish residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet.
— Preserving performers’ consent for non-promotional New Media use of excerpts of traditional TV shows.
— Establishing a sunset provision that allows both sides to revisit New Media.
— Increasing the number of covered background actors in Los Angeles.
— Renewing and codifying turnaround provisions for stunt coordinators.
— Improving the terms and conditions for performers who work under the CW contract (formerly WB/UPN supplement).

“This is another groundbreaking agreement for AFTRA,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon. “In addition to achieving meaningful gains in compensation and working conditions for performers, it also establishes AFTRA jurisdiction in the dynamic area of New Media and it preserves performers’ consent for use of excerpts of traditional TV shows in New Media.

“This is a challenging time in the entertainment industry and this was a tough negotiation,” she said. “Our ability to achieve these crucial breakthroughs for performers was a direct result of AFTRA members’ pragmatic approach to collective bargaining. We recognized the hard realities currently affecting the traditional TV business and we focused on creating a framework that would allow union members to participate fully in the emerging new media marketplace.”

“We appreciate the support we received from the Hollywood labor community, and we wish our brothers and sisters in the Screen Actors Guild the very best as they resume their own contract talks,” she added. AFTRA primetime TV dramas and situation comedies include: Rules of Engagement, Cashmere Mafia, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Flight of the ConchordsDante’s CoveTil Death, Reaper, and new CBS situation comedies Project Gary and Harper’s Island and the ABC comedy Roman’s Empire. The current contract expires on June 30, 2008.

Details of the new agreement will be submitted to the AFTRA National Board at meetings scheduled for June 6-7 in Los Angeles. If approved by the National Board, the pact will be submitted to AFTRA’s membership for ratification. The new three-year agreement will be effective from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2011. Formal negotiations between AFTRA’s 31-member Primetime Negotiating Committee and the AMPTP began on Wednesday, May 7 in Los Angeles. Talks were preceded by months of informal discussions and research by union staff and consultants. AFTRA twice delayed the scheduled start of its primetime negotiations to allow the Screen Actors Guild to continue its primetime/theatrical talks (which began on April 15).

Representatives of the following organizations attended one or more of the negotiating sessions: Writers Guild of America, West, Directors Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild, Teamsters Local 399, and AFTRA’s strategic partner, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

The new primetime television contract is the fourth major agreement AFTRA negotiated this year. The other three contracts, all of which have been ratified, are the AFTRA Network Code, the AFTRA Sound Recordings Code, and the ABC/CBS Network News Contracts.
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AFTRA PRIMETIME TELEVISION CONTRACT
(Exhibit A of the AFTRA Network Code)

May 28, 2008
Wage Increases
— Increases minimums by 3.5% effective July 1, 2008, by an additional 3% effective July 1, 2009, and by an additional 3.5% effective July 1, 2010.
— Increases the network primetime ceilings (as incorporated in Exhibit A and in the WB/UPN Supplement for one-hour programs) by 2.5% effective July 1, 2008 and by 2.5% effective July 1, 2010.

New Media
The New Media provisions follow the pattern already established in the DGA, WGA, and AFTRA Network Code agreements.
— Provides for payment for all non-promotional uses in New Media.
— Confirms jurisdiction for programs produced for initial exhibition on the Internet and other New Media.
— Establishes jurisdiction over derivative New Media programs that are based on current programs.
— Establishes coverage of all original programs with budgets of more than $15,000/minute or $300,000/program or $500,000/series, whichever is lowest.< — Establishes coverage of original content below the thresholds when a covered performer is employed.
— Establishes new residual structures for paid Internet downloads (electronic sell-through) that significantly increase current rates and establish residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet.
— Gives AFTRA the ability to audit unredacted license, distribution, and other agreements pertaining to New Media.
— Allows both sides to revisit New Media when the agreement expires.

Consent in New Media
— Preserves performers’ consent for use of non-promotional use in New Media of excerpts from traditional TV shows.
— Provides that the employers and AFTRA develop a mechanism by which performers can provide or withhold consent for non-promotional use of excerpts for New Media from the industry employers’ TV library.
— For programs produced after July 1, 2008, the employer and the performer may bargain for consent for the right to use non-promotional excerpts of traditional TV shows in New Media at the time of original employment.

Gains for Working Performers
— Major Role daily multiplier increases significantly. The Major Role Minimum for a half-hour show, now $4,080, increases to $4,321 effective July 1, 2008, and will reach $4,606 by 2010.
— Overtime money break for 3-day performers increases from $2,700 to $3,000 effective July 1, 2009.
— Money break for trailers increases from $2,500 to $3,000 effective July 1, 2009.
— Schedule breaks for Schedule B and C performers increases from $4,400 to $4,600 effective July 1, 2009.
— Warm-up performers can now receive Health and Retirement credits.
— Increases the number of covered background actors (from 19 to 20) in Los Angeles.
— Secures rest provisions for background performers in Los Angeles.
— Increases penalty payment for a dancer performing hazardous activity and expands the definition for such activities.
— Renews and codifies turnaround provisions for stunt coordinators.
— Improves the terms and conditions for performers who work under the CW contract (formerly WB/UPN supplement).

Health and Retirement
— Health and Retirement contributions increase 0.5% on July 1, 2009, and rise to 15.0%.

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Here is the AMPTP’s statement today:

AMPTP is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of 17 days of negotiations with AFTRA. Both AMPTP and AFTRA were challenged during these talks to find a way to fairly and sensibly tailor our industry’s new media framework to meet the needs of actors. As a result of compromise and creativity by both parties, we reached an agreement that makes the new media framework work for all actors. This agreement is latest of the 310 labor agreement successfully negotiated by AMPTP since its inception in 1982, and the fourth major agreement reached in 2008 alone – following the DGA, WGA and AFTRA Network Code agreements.

Together, these major labor pacts demonstrate our determination to create economic partnerships with actors, directors, writers and below-the-line workers for the new media age. We now look forward to the resumption of talks with SAG, to building on the foundation laid during our first round of SAG talks, and to reaching an agreement that will prevent another harmful and unnecessary strike.

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Here is SAG’s statement today:

Los Angeles, May 28 — We have read press reports that AFTRA and the AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement covering AFTRA’s Prime Time Exhibit A programs. We do not know the details of the agreement. The Screen Actors Guild negotiating committee and staff will thoroughly analyze and evaluate the principles of a tentative AFTRA deal with the AMPTP. We look forward to receiving an update from AFTRA staff regarding the negotiations as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing more during a face-to-face briefing with AFTRA’s negotiating committee as soon as AFTRA provides the opportunity.

We are meeting with the AMPTP today at 10:00 a.m. as planned. We remain committed to negotiating the best possible terms for actors for all motion pictures and the vast majority of television programs, pay TV and new media formats.