Advertisers and Commercial Actors Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

New three-year deal must still be approved by unions' joint board
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Advertisers and the actors in their commercials have come to a tentative agreement on a new, three-year contract that sets up a pay structure for online play and other new media and boosts wages (5.1%) and increases benefits, according to the Screen Actors Guild.

The deal, between SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Joint Policy Committee representing the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers, must still be approved by the unions' joint board.

The wage rate increase amounts to $36 million in the first year, and $21 million more for pension and health plan contributions.

The contract also contains an agreement to launch a two-year study of whether gross ratings points should be used as a yardstick for compensating performers.

Other highlights, according to SAG, include:

For product made for the Internet or new media, 1.3 times the minimum session fee for eight week's use; 3.5 times the minimum for one year's use.

Five new covered jobs for commercial extras.

New exclusivity provisions for made-for-cable-only commercials.

Increased foreign use payments under the Spanish Language section of the contract.

"We have achieved a deal that brings significant improvements to these contracts," said SAG chief negotiator John T. McGuire in a statement. "Our gains include establishing the first-ever payment structure for made-for-the Internet and new media commercials and significant increases in wages during a very troubled global economy."

Formal negotiations on the contract began Feb. 23 and ended early Wednesday morning in New York.

The performers unions and advertising industry last August agreed to a five-month extension on commercial performer contracts to yesterday (March 31, 2009), while the two sides continued to jointly study alternative compensation methods in the digital age.

They had been working a two-year contract extension agreed to two years ago that would have expired Oct. 29, 2008.

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