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Hollywood studios, AFTRA agree on 3-year contract
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    LOS ANGELES — Hollywood producers and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced a tentative three-year contract deal Wednesday that puts more pressure on a larger actors union to do the same and avoid a crippling strike.
    AFTRA said its deal establishes higher fees for downloaded content and residual payments for ad-supported streams and clips while preserving actors’ right of consent to online use of clips containing their images or voice.
    ‘‘This was a tough negotiation,’’ Roberta Reardon, president of the 70,000-member 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 deal came after the second late-night session in a row since bargaining began May 7.
    The agreement involves a handful of prime-time TV shows such as ‘‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’’ and ‘‘Rules of Engagement.’’
    It will last through June 2011 if it is approved by AFTRA’s board at a meeting June 6-7 and then ratified by members.
    The larger of the two actors unions, the 120,000-member Screen Actors Guild, was set to resume its stalled talks with the studios on Wednesday.
    SAG is negotiating on many of the same issues, with the use of online images a key sticking point. The current contracts of both actors unions are set to expire June 30.
    SAG represents actors in movies, TV and other media. The TV and radio federation represents, among others, actors, singers, announcers and journalists. SAG and AFTRA share 44,000 dual members.
    Jonathan Handel, an entertainment lawyer who formerly represented the writers’ guild, said he expected SAG to resist pressure to sign a deal similar to the one cut by its smaller counterpart.
    ‘‘This is not going to be another two days of negotiations and we’re done,’’ he said. ‘‘This is still a long process.’’
    The producers, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, hailed the AFTRA deal and said they looked forward to negotiating with SAG, ‘‘and to reaching an agreement that will prevent another harmful and unnecessary strike.’’
    The possibility of a walkout by actors had sent some film producers rushing to finish shooting or to delay projects for fear they would be shut down before filming was complete.
    The alliance has said it was burdensome to gain consent from each actor for every online clip. It said it worked with AFTRA to ‘‘fairly and sensibly’’ create a new way to handle online content.
    ‘‘As a result of compromise and creativity by both parties, we reached an agreement that makes the new media framework work for all actors,’’ the alliance said.
    With the entertainment industry still recovering from the 100-day strike by the Writers Guild of America that ended in February, actors largely wanted to avoid another work stoppage.
    The new media issues reflected in the tentative deal by AFTRA were also priorities for the writers union and the Directors Guild of America, which approved a new contract in January.
    Among other things, AFTRA said the new agreement provides wage increases in traditional media and increases employer contributions to the AFTRA health and retirement plan.
    It also establishes jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet and new media.
    Further details were not released regarding those provisions.
    In a message to its members Tuesday night, SAG said it would continue to seek an increase in residual payments for appearances in DVDs, something neither AFTRA, directors nor writers were able to secure.
    It also raised concerns about actors being asked to pitch products within scripted TV shows and movies.
    ‘‘We remain committed to negotiating the best possible terms for actors for all motion pictures and the vast majority of television programs, pay TV and new media formats,’’ SAG said in response to the AFTRA agreement.
    A dispute over recruitment of members led AFTRA and SAG to negotiate separately with the studios for the first time in 27 years. The split resulted in the separate, leapfrog schedule of talks.
    SAG began talks April 15 and temporally ended the sessions while AFTRA negotiated its agreement.

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