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AMPTP Gives Final Contract Offer to SAG

2 Jul, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) June 30 issued their final (43-page) contract offer to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), a proposal they say includes $250 million in additional compensation benefits over three years, having characterized the parties as in a “de-facto” strike.

The current contract expired at midnight June 30.

The proposal is consistent with labor agreements previously reached between the AMPTP and the Directors Guild of America (DGA), Writers Guild of America (WGA) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).

Producers say their offer includes “groundbreaking” terms and residuals for all forms of new media, as well as “significant” increases in daily minimums, reruns, guest stars, pension and health care for working actors in TV and feature films.

Specifically, the new media proposals would establish undisclosed residuals for streaming television programs and features, in addition to establishing jurisdiction and residuals for derivative and original made-for new media programs.

The agreement would double the current residual rate for permanent downloads and provide performers' consent over non-promotional uses of online clips.

The proposal would include a broad definition of “covered performers” in low-budget online productions. There would be unfettered access by SAG members to producers' un-redacted online deal memos.

Both sides would be protected by “sunset clauses,” which provide for an automatic repealing of the entire or sections of the labor agreement once a specific future date is reached.

The recent labor agreement between AMPTP and WGA called for WGA jurisdiction for all derivatives of guild-covered content and/or if the Web-based content's budget met thresholds, including $15,000 per minute; $300,000 per program or $500,000 per series.

Minimum new media derivative compensation for writers of dramatic programming including $618 for up to two minutes, plus $309 for each additional minute. Comedy, variety and daytime serials receive $360 for two minutes, plus $180 for each additional minute. Other derivative programming receives $309 for up to two-minutes, plus $155 for each additional minute.

Creators of Web-based content that becomes a TV series or feature film are protected, including copyrights and right to sell and license the material.

Currently for SAG members, residuals for material re-purposed online include 3.6% of distributor's gross for download rentals (streaming), 1.08% of distributor's gross for electronic sellthrough of the first 100,000 episodic TV downloads and 50,000 feature film units. Above those figures, TV downloads pay 1.4% of distributor's gross and 1.3% for movies.

Ad-supported streaming of theatrical movies produced after July 1, 1971, paid 3.6% of distributor's gross. Ad-supported library TV content produced after 1977 pay 6% of distributor's gross.

New ad-supported TV streams pay 3% of the "total applicable minimum" for each 26-week period in the first year of the initial broadcast.

All streamed content is subject to a 17-day window (24 days for first season TV programs, one-off TV shows and movies-of-the week) contiguous to the initial TV broadcast whereby writers receive no residuals.

Revisions to the current DVD residual rate — a source of considerable consternation among SAG leaders — were not addressed, which is par with settlements reached with the other guilds.

The current DVD residual rate pays 3% for TV and 3.6% (movies) of the distributor's gross receipts.

“This [AMPTP] offer does not appear to address some key issues important to actors,” said Doug Allen, SAG national executive director and chief negotiator, in a statement. “For example, the impact of foregoing residuals for all made-for-new-media productions is incalculable and would mean the beginning of the end of residuals.”

The producers responded by alleging that any strike would be due to “the unwillingness” of the SAG leadership to make a deal.

“SAG members will lose $2.5 million each and every day in wages,” AMPTP said, in a statement. “The other guilds and unions would lose $13.5 million each day in wages, and the California economy will be harmed at the rate of $23 million each and every day.”

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