Actors' Unions Strike a Deal

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The two unions that represent Hollywood actors averted a potential strike last week, reaching a tentative deal with studios that would hike minimum standard salaries and improve compensation for cable-bound work.

The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists reached terms on a contract that reportedly puts more cash into middle-class actors' pockets by requiring studios to pay pension and health benefits to those who work on basic-cable projects. At present, those funds are supported by a 6 percent levy on the actors' share of cable-programming licenses.

The deal with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers ends Hollywood's second potential strike threat this year. In May, the Writers Guild of America came to terms with producers on a new contract for TV and movie writers.

Union negotiators said they wouldn't release specific deal terms until they're presented to members. To become final, the pact must be approved by the joint SAG and AFTRA board of directors, then ratified via a mail-in secret ballot.

The agreement also includes a 3 percent increase in the standard rate paid to day players, union officials confirmed. Those actors presently receive $617 per day.

In many respects, the tentative pact's concessions mirror those won by writers earlier this year. Both attacked the Fox broadcast network's status as a "weblet," which allowed the broadcaster to compensate actors and writers at roughly two-thirds of what's paid out by ABC, CBS and NBC.

Fox now has three years to bump up salaries until they're comparable to those paid by the "Big Three."

There were also concerns about video-on-demand. Actors will be compensated for work that appears on VOD platforms at the premium-TV rate, rather than the lesser videotape-license rate.

The SAG and AFTRA contracts expired June 30, but the parties continued to negotiate with the studios until the deal was reached July 3.

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