Hollywood studios, AFTRA agree on contract

May 28, 2008 7:30:37 AM PDT
They have a deal in Tinseltown.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists says it has agreed to a tentative deal with Hollywood studios on a new three-year contract.

The union said early Wednesday that the deal establishes fees for content streamed and downloaded over the Internet and preserves actors' rights of consent on the use of their voices and images in online clips.

The agreement over a handful of prime-time TV shows such as "Curb Your Enthusiasm" will last through June 2011 if it is approved AFTRA's national board and ratified by members.

The deal greatly reduces the chance of an actors strike, although larger of the two actors unions, the Screen Actors Guild, is set to resume its stalled talks with the studios Wednesday morning.

"This was a tough negotiation," Roberta Reardon, president of the 70,000-member AFTRA union, said in a statement. "We focused on creating a framework that would allow union members to participate fully in the emerging new media marketplace."

The producers, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, hailed the deal and said it looked forward to negotiating with SAG, "and to reaching an agreement that will prevent another harmful and unnecessary strike."

Actors, still recovering from the 100-day writers strike that ended in February, had largely hoped to avoid another work stoppage.

AFTRA's deal came after the second late night session in a row since bargaining began May 7.

The two unions had agreed to the same starting proposals but took different tacks with the studios, the first time they had negotiated separately in 27 years. It led to the separate, leapfrog schedule of talks.

SAG, which also has jurisdiction over work on major studio film productions, began negotiations talks April 15.

Both unions' current contracts are set to expire June 30.

The possibility of a strike had sent some film producers rushing to finish shooting or to delay projects for fear they would be shut down before filming was complete.