- Prospects of a peace settlement in the ad industry's dispute with Equity, which has dogged commercials making in Britain for 13 months, have risen with the announcement of fresh talks to break the stalemate.
The news comes after a marathon stand-off between the actors' union on one side and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers on the other.
A statement issued by the two sides on Tuesday evening said they had "agreed to meet to explore whether or not grounds exist on which further progress in negotiating a new agreement might be made."
The announcement goes on to say that the meeting "will take place as soon as possible but no date has yet been fixed".
The union's approach to employers to re-open talks follows a note to members from Ian McGarry, their general secretary, telling them they could accept work under the terms of an expired 1991 agreement (Campaign, last week).
The moves are part of an effort to bring an end to the confrontation, which began over voiceover fees but escalated into a boycott of commercials production by all Equity members.
The union took action over what it claimed were employers' proposals which would cut voice-overs' earnings by two-thirds.
Equity sources say the boycott was necessary because it feared agencies and advertisers would try to peg back fees for vision artists once the voiceover battle had been won.
Employers deny this was ever the intention and the union concedes that voiceover fees have already dropped significantly during the past 18 months. It also claims that the 1991 terms, currently being offered to voiceover as well as vision artists, enable employers to peg voiceover fees by up to 50 per cent.
Equity's peace overtures are thought to have been prompted by concerns that a new agreement was looking increasingly unlikely with many employers questioning the need for one.
But IPA sources were this week warning against over expectations. "Both sides are being cautious," one said. "The danger is that we have a major bust-up as soon as formal negotiations resume. Equity has to realise that the game has moved on and that a new agreement will have to be more flexible than the last."