SAG contract remains snagged on Internet


No further meetings are scheduled between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), but neither has SAG made any movement toward a strike vote. The sticking point is how to deal with content produced specifically for the Internet. SAG complains that the contract offer made by AMPTP provides no residual payments to actors when content created for new media outlets are repeated over and over. AMPTP counters that its offer provides the first-ever residuals for ad-supported streaming, made-for-new media programs and reuse of clips in new media. And the studios note that by not accepting the contract, SAG members are continuing to work under the old contract that has allowed non-union Internet production since 2001.

“The stakes are too high to concede,” said SAG Executive Director Doug Allen in a letter to union members. AMPTP has been pressing for SAG to let its members vote on the studio’s “final offer,” but Allen warned that accepting that deal would allow the use of non-union actors in almost all new media productions “for the foreseeable future.”

AMPTP says what it has offered gives SAG members extensive contract coverage for new media productions, where currently they have almost none. “AMPTP has offered to extend SAG jurisdiction to original new media production, including low-budget programs that employ a single ‘covered actor.’ The AMPTP’s final offer also guarantees residuals of 3.6% of distributor’s gross when original new media productions are reused on consumer pay platforms, and terms to increase pay and residuals if the program is eventually exhibited theatrically or on television. These terms are a major advancement for SAG members compared to the existing contract terms. In addition, the new media framework we have offered to SAG establishes first-ever residuals for ad-supported streaming, made-for new media programs and reuse of clips in new media. We have also offered to double the residual rate for permanent downloads and give SAG exclusive jurisdiction over new media programs derived from existing television series,” AMPTP said.

RBR/TVBR observation: The two sides certainly don’t seem far enough apart to justify a strike. But what is going to bridge the gap? The next significant date is August 15th. AMPTP’s wage offer on the table is retroactive to July 1st, when the old contract expired, but only if the new one is ratified by August 15th.