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The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has signed its first comprehensive contract covering talent appearing in interactive media productions.

The agreement between the union and the production arm of interactive software marketer Electronic Arts Productions is significant because it represents the first broad, long-term code covering all on-camera and off-camera performers in programming for all interactive media platforms Electronic Arts works on.

The agreement runs through June 30, 1995.

Previously, such contracts were limited to specific interactive media productions.

AFTRA-the union for performers in TV shows, radio, recording and commercials-is seeking similar contracts with other companies but admits industrywide employment standards are still a long way down the road.

The Electronic Arts contract may serve as a prototype for other agreements.

"It all depends on the specific situations," an AFTRA spokesman said. "We're doing it on a company-by-company basis so far. There's no [industrywide] agreement yet for interactive producers" because there are still relatively few companies producing interactive programming, he said.

Electronic Arts took the lead on the issue because it's one of the most active developers of the 32-bit videogames that will use actors frequently.

"It will be a lot cleaner for the actors and the [interactive entertainment] industry," said Jack Heistand, senior VP-marketing for Electronic Arts. The biggest issue in negotiating the talent contract was "the notion that compensation per viewing didn't apply to our business," Mr. Heistand said.

Under the Electronic Arts contract, the minimum day rate for performers in interactive productions is $485, comparable to that for performers in prime-time network TV shows.

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