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AFTRA ready to talk code
Leaders prep for contract negotiations


By DAVE MCNARY

Leaders of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have launched official preparations for negotiating the union's network code contract.

AFTRA announced Friday that it's launching its "wages and working conditions" process to develop proposals and negotiation strategy over the next six weeks.

Current contract, which expires Jan. 31, covers about $400 million in annual earnings from dramatic programs in syndication or outside primetime, daytime serial dramas, gameshows, talkshows, variety and musical programs, news, sports, reality shows, and promotional announcements. Notable programs include "Good Morning America," "The View," "The Price Is Right," "Days of Our Lives," "Oprah," "Entertainment Tonight," "American Idol," "20/20" and "Late Show With David Letterman."

"Wages and working conditions" meetings will be held in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, Miami and other markets. The proposals will be reviewed for adoption by the AFTRA national board on Oct. 20.

AFTRA prexy Roberta Reardon said key issues will include the impact of new-media platforms, working conditions and health and pension benefits.

AFTRA hasn't set a date for starting talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. It agreed earlier to extend the current three-year deal from Nov. 15 to Jan. 31 in order to avoid a conflict with the WGA negotiations, which resume Sept. 19.

AFTRA's 2004 deal for the current net code pact featured a significant boost in employer contributions to the AFTRA health plan, which has been hit by soaring costs.
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