Directors of Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have approved a two-year extension to the commercials contracts with the advertising industry by an almost 95%

Directors of Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have approved a two-year extension to the commercials contracts with the advertising industry by an almost 95% margin.

Members of SAG and AFTRA will now vote on final ratification of the extension.

The agreement -- with the Joint Policy Committee on Broadcast Talent Union Relations of the Assn. of National Advertisers and the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies -- provides a two-year extension to the Commercials Contracts covering advertisements on TV, radio, the Internet and new media through Oct. 29, 2008.

The extension agreement:

-- Commissions a yet-to-be-determined consultant to conduct a joint study that will examine alternative methods to compensate performers for their participation in commercials appearing on television, radio, and the growing array of new media.

-- Acknowledges recognition by the advertising industry of jurisdiction by AFTRA and SAG over all commercials -- not just television, radio, and the Internet, but also new media platforms that exist now or to be developed in the future.

-- Increases both the basic compensation for performers by 6% and the employer contribution to union health and pension plans from 14.3% to 14.8%.

-- Provides advertisers with the option of increased flexibility to edit commercials for the Internet and new media through additional payments to performers that are bargained freely without a specific minimum payment.

-- Forms a New Media Committee, comprised of representatives from both unions and the industry, that will be empowered, if the unions agree, to make adjustments to the agreement to accommodate changing technologies and shifting paradigms within the commercials industry.

-- Grants advertisers a one-year waiver that will allow advertisers to experiment with a shorter cycle of use in the new media and Internet areas.

The joint board also approved a waiver to the current commercials contracts that allows the immediate application of the Internet and new media provisions of the extension. If the extension is not ratified by the unions' membership, the waiver will terminate.

"Amazingly, this extension to the commercials contracts is a victory for the entire industry -- performers and advertisers alike," said John Connolly, AFTRA national president. "In exchange for expanded jurisdiction and increased wages and benefits, AFTRA will now work in partnership with our sister union and the advertising industry to analyze the rapidly evolving media environment. This agreement will increase job opportunities for professional performers in every corner of traditional and new media. Building a lifetime career, with good jobs and good wages and benefits, is the name of the game."

A majority of the members voting must support the agreement for the two-year extension to be ratified. Ballots are scheduled to be mailed Sept. 5 and are due by Sept. 26.