Negotiations between actors and TV studios and producers on a new national three-year contract broke down Sunday evening over the issue of "promotional launches," in which producers proposed airing the first few episodes of new shows without paying actors residuals, according to a source familiar with the talks.

The hold back was something the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers secured in its contracts with writers and directors last year.

"We all have an interest in scripted dramatic television, we all want to promote it and build audience," the source said. "But the promotional launch impacts SAG differently. Directors and writers, and even the series regulars, have much more vested interest in the show staying on the air because they get paid through the whole season. But for the day-actors, they may appear on a single show, so if there's no residuals for a couple of episodes, they lose that."

Actors who are members of either the Screen Actors Guild or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are working under a contract that expires June 30, the end of a one-year extension agreed to in February 2004. The negotiations, involving benefits, enhancing the terms and conditions for background performers and residuals, began December 6, recessed for the holidays December 16 and resumed Jan. 5.

Spokespersons for both unions and the AMPTP declined comment, citing an agreement to operate under a press blackout. "We're not going to negotiate in the press," said Rebecca Rhine, assistant national executive director and public policy and strategic planning for AFTRA.

In a joint statement, union and producer representatives said, "The parties have concluded they cannot reach an agreement at this time. There are no scheduled dates for the resumption of talks."

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