Negotiators from SAG-AFTRA and the advertising industry met for the first time Thursday on a new commercials contract, and they agreed on one thing: a news blackout.
The two sides issued a joint statement following the session characterizing the initial meeting in New York as "cordial and positive." There was no word on when a subsequent meeting would take place.
The current agreement, which covers an estimated $1 billion in work, will expire on March 31. SAG and AFTRA negotiated a one-year extension that carried the existing agreement into 2013 in order to focus their efforts on a merger, which was approved by union members last March.
The talks with the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers are the first major negotiations for the newly merged Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Wages and working conditions will be the key issues. The two sides had planned to wrestle with a restructuring in the way commercial residuals are calculated, but in November decided to take that off the table until more data could be accumulated.
Here's Thursday's statement:
"Representatives of the Joint Policy Committee and SAG-AFTRA today commenced negotiations on successor agreements to the commercials contracts.
Today's talks were cordial and positive and both groups look forward to productive bargaining under a jointly agreed upon media blackout already in effect. We will have no further comment."