AFTRA Network TV Code Extended by 1 Year

Program minimums, health & retirement contributions rise; new-media rules stay the same

AFTRA said Friday that its national board of directors unanimously approved a one-year extension to the AFTRA Network Television Code that includes increases in minimum program fees but no changes to the new-media provisions.

The code, which covers TV programming other than network dramatic primetime shows, was OK’d at AFTRA’s annual face-to-face plenary in New York City. It still has to be approved by members, which will take place in the coming weeks in the five major AFTRA Locals: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington/Baltimore.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists represents more than 70,000 performers, recording artists and broadcast journalists.

The one-year extension of the agreement between AFTRA and the four major television broadcast networks and producers covers the period from 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 also will be extended for one year and will remain unchanged.

“This extension accomplishes three important goals for AFTRA members,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon in a statement. “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."

The code covers programming in all television dayparts, with the exception of primetime dramatic programs on the 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.

According to the union, AFTRA members who work under this contract provide the talent that fuels more than 70% of the hours programmed by the major networks.

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.