Contract with Actors Unions Would Ease Interactive Ad Editing Rules

Online video ads are getting more and more play, and a tentative agreement among actors unions and the ad industry could help actors get their piece of the action. If approved, the new agreement would extend the contracts that cover ads on TV, radio, Web, wireless and emerging media.

The unofficial pact, announced Friday, was reached by the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Joint Policy Committee on Broadcast Talent Union Relations (JPC), an organization comprised of members from the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

The deal calls for a 6 percent raise in basic compensation and a .5 percent raise in the actors unions’ pension and health plans. If approved by the parties involved, the agreement will continue the contracts through October 2008.

“We’re very pleased with the agreement,” commented Doug Wood, partner at law firm Reed Smith and lead negotiator for the JPC. Most significant for advertisers, explained Wood, is the provision that allows for free bargaining when it comes to edits made to commercials created for the Web and other emerging media. Alterations to traditional media spots have required compensation for actors even when those changes haven’t involved their parts in the ads, according to Wood. Those fees, he added, have been “a huge problem” for the ad industry.

Wood stressed the non-combative atmosphere of the negotiations, noting, “It really was a collaborative effort.”

An approved contract would also provide for a joint study to determine other methods of actor compensation for participation in ads running in traditional and interactive media, as well as the media outlets of tomorrow.

“The purpose of the study is to ask ourselves, ‘If we had to start at square one, how would we do it?'”

In addition to allowing for more flexibility with regards to interactive media ad edits, the contract would call for the formation of a New Media Committee comprised of both unions and ad industry representatives. Committee members would be responsible for amending the agreement as new technologies and industry changes emerge.

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