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Beyond the Cone of Silence

Strikewatch_blog   We're taking a little detour from the Sherman Oaks Cone of Silence to offer a few tidbits of union/non-union news.

TEMPORARY 'NET LOSS: AP reports that the National Association of Broadcasters and SoundExchange, a group that collects royalties for music artists and recording companies, reached a deal to lower royalty payments for a few years to over-the-air radio stations that also broadcast over the Internet. AFTRA has a seat on the board of SoundExchange and has been involved in the situation for a number of years but was not directly responsible for the decision, a federation spokesman told Strike Watch.

The AP reports that the rates will be cut about 16 percent for 2009 and 2010; the stations will now pay $1.50 per song for every 1,000 listeners. By 2015, the rate will have increased to $2.50 a song. However, the AFTRA spokesman said the Copyright Board still has to approve any rate cuts and he could not verify the AP figures.

People on both sides say the move helps keep some Internet radio stations in business, as earlier royalty fees set by the Copyright Board have been exorbitant to some, the report states.

HARSH REALITY?: In about a half-hour, the WGA will kick off a protest rally outside a live taping of American Idol. WGA wants jurisdiction and states those who do the work of writers on reality shows are denied overtime pay and meal breaks. The producers at Freemantle have said in the past such claims are without merit.

Espresso3 ESPRESSO: Because we here at Strike Watch do not have enough to do, we are sacrificing some spare time between pedicures and mah-jongg to author another blog, Espresso, a compendium of industry-related news of particular importance to actors.

WHATCHA THINK?: Back Stage has a new polling feature in print and online called Whatcha Think? This week's poll asks the following philosophical question. Should casting directors be recognized with Oscars and Tony Awards? Go here to vote. Hopefully, we will soon have a poll to come up with a name not so lame as "Whatcha Think?"

--Andrew Salomon

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