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Members of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have ratified the union's primetime deal, spurning SAG's avid campaigning to vote down the contract.

AFTRA said 62% of those voting supported the deal. Announcement came Tuesday evening following a month of bitter battling between the thesp unions.

The ratification was not a surprise due to the faltering economy and the lingering impact of the 100-day WGA strike. Terms in the AFTRA pact mirror those in the contracts signed by the WGA and DGA, along with the majors' final offer to SAG.

The results represent a slap to SAG leadership, which has held out for a better deal with the implied threat of a strike. SAG has yet to take a strike authorization vote and - given the AFTRA vote -- it's highly doubtful that it could achieve the needed 75% endorsement for a work stoppage.

SAG had been hoping that a defeat of the AFTRA deal would give it the increased leverage it needs to obtain better terms. Instead, it now faces the unsavory prospect of AFTRA signing up new shows shot on digital - an area of shared jurisdiction - with the new contract.

Ballots went out to all 70,000 AFTRA members, including 44,000 SAG members who belong to both unions. Alec Baldwin, Sally Field, Tom Hanks and Susan Sarandon backed the AFTRA deal while Viggo Mortensen, Jack Nicholson, Nick Nolte and Martin Sheen endorsed SAG's anti-AFTRA stance.

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers broke off negotiations by delivering the final offer on June 30, a few hours before SAG's feature-primetime contract expired. Actors have been working since on some TV programs under terms of the expired deal; SAG's also granted waivers to over 355 indie features.

The AMPTP announced Tuesday morning that the meeting with SAG had been set and added, "The Producers remain hopeful that SAG will accept our final offer."

SAG had contended that actors deserve sweeter terms in areas such as new media, DVD residuals and salary minimums. AFTRA argued that approval will put the industry back to work and that the deal includes gains in salaries and new media without rollbacks or concessions
Edited by King, Jul 8 2008, 08:51 PM.
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