AFTRA Extends Network TV Code

By Alex Weprin 

Staffers at TV news programs such as NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “20/20” will benefit from an extension the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has signed with the big four broadcast networks.

AFTRA and the networks have agreed to extend the AFTRA Network Television Code by one year, covering Nov. 16, 2010 to Nov. 15, 2011. The code covers all television programming except primetime scripted shows.

The extension will now be sent out to AFTRA members for ratification.

The union is preparing to enter negotiations for primetime scripted fare in September, and is currently negotiating with ABC to develop the successor to the ABC Network Staff Newspersons Agreement.

More details about the extension, including the terms of the deal, after the jump.

AFTRA National Board Approves One-Year Extension of
AFTRA Network Television Code

NEW YORK (June 11, 2010)-The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA, AFL-CIO), a national union of more than 70,000 professional performers, recording artists and broadcast journalists, today announced that the AFTRA National Board of Directors unanimously approved a one-year extension to the AFTRA Network Television Code, which covers television programming except network dramatic primetime shows, at its annual face-to-face plenary taking place in New York City.

The one-year extension agreement between AFTRA and the four major television broadcast networks and producers will cover the period of Nov. 16, 2010, to Nov. 15, 2011. It will include 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, 2011 and specifically devoted to the Retirement Fund – which will bring the total Network Code contribution rate to 15.6%. Terms covering Network Code programs made-for and reused in new media will also be extended for one year and will remain unchanged. The National Board approved sending out the extension for ratification by membership meetings in the five major AFTRA Locals of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington/Baltimore. Those meetings will occur in the coming weeks.

“This extension accomplishes three important goals for AFTRA members,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon. “It secures critical increases in minimums and health and retirement benefits in the middle of a tough economy. It moves this contract out of our heavy 2010 negotiating cycle so we can conduct attentive Network Code wages and working conditions in mid-2011. It permits AFTRA members and staff to devote our resources to preparing for the upcoming joint negotiations with Screen Actors Guild on the AFTRA Exhibit A and SAG TV/Theatrical contracts. I applaud the Steering Committee and the National Board for their temerity, vision and impressive show of union solidarity.”

The AFTRA Network Television Code covers programming in all television day parts, except for primetime dramatic programs on the networks. AFTRA members who work under this contract provide the talent that fuels more than 70% of the hours programmed by the major networks. It includes dramas in first-run syndication, morning news shows, midday talk and dramatic serials, primetime variety, reality, contest, sports and late night talk shows. Current programs covered by this contract 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,” ‘Late Show with David Letterman,” among many others.

Terms for scripted network primetime programming are covered by Exhibit A of the AFTRA Network Code and will be negotiated separately with the industry in joint negotiations with Screen Actors Guild scheduled to begin on Sept. 27, 2010. Nationwide joint wages & working conditions meetings will commence this summer in preparation for negotiation of the AFTRA Exhibit A and SAG TV/Theatrical contracts which expire on June 30, 2011.

Additionally, AFTRA members are currently engaged in negotiations with ABC on a successor agreement to AFTRA’s ABC Network Staff Newspersons Agreement, which began May 1, 2010. The union is also preparing for negotiations on a new AFTRA Sound Recordings Code, which is scheduled to begin on June 16, 2010.

The National Board will resume and conclude its meeting tomorrow, Saturday, June 12.

About AFTRA
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audiobooks, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society. Visit AFTRA online at www.aftra.com.

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