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AFTRA Reaches Extension Deal

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has approved a short-term extension to the expiration of an agreement covering all programming except scripted primetime fare.

AFTRA’s Network Television Code was set to expire on Nov. 15 but its national board, acting on a steering committee recommendation, Saturday extended that date to Jan. 31, 2008.

With the Writers Guild of America TV/theatrical agreement set to end on Oct. 31, two weeks before AFTRA’s accord with the industry, the talent union appears to be anticipating protracted negotiations between the WGA and Hollywood. The threat of a strike hangs over the upcoming talks.

"Moving our negotiating schedule back minimizes the potential for scheduling conflicts should the WGA and the industry need additional time to conclude negotiations on the WGA contract beyond its expiration date,” said Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, AFTRA National Executive Director.

AFTRA made the announcement of the extension after the networks signed off on the deal Monday, according to a spokesman for the talent federation.

The Network Code covers a wide range of programming, including non-prime time and syndicated dramatic programs, certain cable programming, daytime serial dramas, game shows, talk shows, variety programs, sports programs, reality programs and promotional announcements.

AFTRA’s network contract covering scripted dramas and comedies is set to expire June 30, 2008, along with that of the Screen Actors Guild.It will jointly negotiate those terms with SAG, which has reportedly been coordinating negotiating strategies with the WGA.

Meanwhile, the board approved a new National Public Radio (NPR) freelance agreement that contains increases in program rates and contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds, both retroactive to Oct. 1, 2006.

It also named Roberta Reardon to serve as Interim President to fill the remainder of the term vacated by former AFTRA President John Connolly, who resigned in March to head the Actors Equity Association.