Actors Union Reaches Deal With Producers of Television and Film

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SAG, producers reach tentative deal

By David B. Wilkerson, MarketWatch

April 17, 2009

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said Friday that they’ve reached a tentative agreement on a new deal covering TV programs and movies.
Details of the deal will not be disclosed, the two sides said in a joint statement, before the Screen Actors Guild’s board of directors formally reviews the agreement on Sunday during a videoconference in New York and Los Angeles.
A spokeswoman for SAG declined further comment about the agreement.
Should the deal be acceptable to SAG’s board, it probably won’t be ratified until around June 1, says Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney at TroyGould.
“Any opposing statements within the Guild have to be drafted, and Membership First has said they’ll oppose any deal,” Handel said, referring to a more militant wing of the guild led by President Alan Rosenberg.
According to SAG’s rules, the tentative agreement would then have to be mailed to SAG members, who would respond by mail.
By the time the voting process is completed, it will be late May, Handel commented.
To be ratified, the deal must receive 50% membership approval. “They won’t get the 90% range of approval that the Writers Guild got when it ratified its deal [last year],” Handel said, because there is opposition. But I think this deal gets done.”
SAG represents more than 122,000 actors. Its previous contract with the AMPTP expired June 30, 2008, a month after the producers walked out on negotiations.
The AMPTP represents the major studios, including those owned by Time Warner Inc. which also owns MarketWatch, the publisher of this report.
Among other demands, the actors have asked for residual payments from productions made specifically for the Web, cell phones and other nontraditional platforms, regardless of budget.
The union argued that the producers offer no residual compensation to actors for original programming that runs on,,, or other network-owned new media platforms.
For its part, the AMPTP has said its offer to SAG would provide actors with $250 million more in compensation than did its previous contract, with terms related to online streaming that are similar to those accepted by other unions, including the Writers Guild of America, AFTRA and the Directors Guild of America. End of Story

David B. Wilkerson is a reporter for MarketWatch in Chicago.

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