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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 13:46 GMT
Actors in landmark podcast deal
Colin Salmon
Colin Salmon plays the iconic Kerr Avon in Blake's 7
Actors union Equity claims to have achieved a world first in securing a rights deal for podcast performers.

The union agreed a deal with producers of an updated audio version of 1970s BBC cult sci-fi show Blake's 7.

Starring Colin Salmon and This Life actress Daniela Nardini, the podcasts will be made available from next month.

Equity spokesman Martin Brown said the deal - which agrees working conditions and pay - is an "important first step" for actors working in new media.

Mr Brown told the BBC News website that questions from members about new media was now "constant day-to-day work."

'Benchmark'

He added that the agreement with B7 Productions over the Blake's 7 podcast would set a benchmark for the "rapid changes in technology".

The agreement provides for minimum session fees, rehearsals, overtime payments, holiday pay, assignment of rights and a royalty share on net revenues generated via podcast downloads, audio streaming via the internet and subsequent CD release.

"Our normal agreements are based around the history of radio and television, so don't properly account for doing productions for these new media," Mr Brown said.

"They could not possibly be adapted properly because they talk about transmissions and, obviously, for podcasts and internet streamings, transmissions no longer have any meaning.

"This deal is a benchmark... through the detailed negotiations with B7 Productions we now have a matrix that we can use.

"If someone came to us tomorrow saying 'I want to do a new drama podcast, can you help me with my rights' we can say 'absolutely we can' . We know where we are going with this."

Blake's 7
Blake's 7 hit TV screens in 1978

Mr Brown added that Equity was also looking into the wider implications of member's work being used on the internet and mobile platforms.

"It is one of our absolutely highest priorities at the moment," he said.

"We have constant calls from members saying 'my work is being used here, it's being used there, it is being streamed on the internet, it is being used on this website, what are my rights' and that is central to the role we have now."

Freedom fighters

Blake's 7, about a group of freedom fighters battling against the ruthless Federation, won an adoring audience in the 1970s with its low-budget sets and wacky gadgets.

The new audio downloads are based on the format and characters created by the late Terry Nation.

The 36 episodes, all five-minutes long, will be made available for download from next month, with a CD released later in the year.

Andrew Mark Sewell, B7 Production's executive producer, said the deal with Equity was "a significant agreement" for performers and producers.




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