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SAG Scales Back DVD Demands, Contract Talks Extended

3 May, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) agreed late last week to extend contract negations through May 6 after SAG reportedly agreed to drop its demands to double royalties paid for DVD.

The actors now seek a 15% increase in the DVD residual rate, which is nearly 25 years old and pays 3% for TV and 3.6% for movies of the producer's gross receipts, according to The Los Angeles Times.

In exchange, the actors said they would agree to the same deal for new media worked out between the Writers Guild of America and producers in February, notwithstanding 70 changes.

The contract between AMPTP, SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) expires June 30.

The AMPTP refused to double DVD royalties and other related labor costs it said would result in wage hikes approaching 200%.

The producers claimed the existing labor agreement for DVD should remain intact since it represents a mature business.

“In such circumstances employers in other industries typically negotiate reductions and efficiencies to reduce costs,” said the producers, in a statement. “We are not seeking to do this.”

Packaged media residuals figured to play a prominent role in the writers strike earlier this year but vanished from the bargaining table when producers offered fiscal terms on new media the Writers Guild of America deemed the “best deal in 30 years.” The DVD residual rate had been a sore point among the SAG brass.

Indeed, unlike writers whose material is principally found in screenplays, actors feature prominently in both the main attraction and on DVD bonus material as value-added commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and related content.

Often considered by studios as peripheral in importance, budgets for bonus material have been curtailed in recent years as sales of DVDs matured.

AFTRA, whose membership primarily comprises daytime TV talent, and AMPTP are slated to begin contract talks May 7.

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