Ad Industry to Develop New Actor-Payment Structures

New Terms Required for Digital Platforms; Product Placement Also an Issue

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As its contract with the actors unions nears expiration, the ad industry has launched a search for an independent consultant to help develop new compensation models for actors whose work in TV and radio is also used on mobile phones and other growing media channels.

As the old contract expires, actors unions and the advertising business must hammer out new concepts to cover images and audio used across new media platforms like cellphones, iPods and Internet channels.

Consultant search
The industry's negotiating committee said it has issued a request for qualifications to identify consultants with backgrounds in TV, radio and labor relations to come up with alternative compensation schemes that could be used this fall in the industry's collective bargaining process with the two unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The contract expires Oct. 29.

Any proposals that are developed are not meant to be binding, but instead are to be presented as possible alternatives.

Stuck in the 1950s
"The payment structures in the current collective bargaining agreement with SAG/AFTRA were originally developed to meet the needs and problems of the early 1950s," said Douglas Wood, the lead negotiator for the Joint Policy Committee on Broadcast Talent Union Relations, which is composed of appointees from American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers.

"We need a new, equitable approach to talent payment -- one that recognizes that consumers are viewing commercials on cellphones and iPods, and advertisers are using digital editing to customize messages for narrow audiences," he said.

Branded entertainment
The talent unions have also expressed concern over the creative community being left out of discussions concerning brand integration in programming, an increasingly popular marketing practice.

A SAG spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

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