Advertisers Seek Rewrite on Talent Contracts

The ad industry is looking for somebody to help figure out what it should have to pay TV commercial talent in an era of more-diversified and targeted media approaches.

With the ad industry's contract with SAG/AFTRA expiring in October, the Joint Policy Committee on Broadcast Talent Union Relations for the Association of National Advertisers/American Association of Advertising Agencies, has put out a request for qualifications (RFQ) for an independent consultant who can "develop alternate methods to compensate actors for their participation in commercials that appear on television and radio as well as in the growing array of new media."

New-media appearances, say advertisers, have been added on to compensation packages without taking into account the increasingly targeted nature of the business.

"The payment structures in the current collective bargaining agreements with SAG/AFTRA were originally developed to meet the needs and problems of the early 1950s," said lead JPC negotiator Douglas J. Wood in announcing the RFQ. "As different means of broadcasting were developed, new payment streams were added on to the contract, creating enormous administrative complexity, distortions in the allocation of compensation, and the potential for out-of-control costs."

His example of a distortion was "talent payments for broadcasts that reach very small audiences
can today exceed the actual cost of the media."

Wood said that  the new model must take into account cellphones and iPods, suggesting the targeted nature of some of the new delivery systems needs to be factored in.

A SAG/AFTRA executive who deals with commercial TV contracts was reviewing the announcement at press time.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.