UPDATE: SAG was formally briefed “yesterday, at 1:15 PM, at the AMPTP,” according to an AFTRA spokesperson, by a delegation of AFTRA negotiations committee members and senior staff. (See my previous post written 12 hours before the briefing was arranged, AFTRA Skedaddled To Avoid Briefing SAG.) Now let’s all move on…
First, I’ve got additional info about the AFTRA-AMPTP deal announced yesterday: I’m told the union’s New Media terms are the exact same offered by the networks-&-studios group to SAG on Day 1 of their negotiations last month. So AFTRA negotiated with the networks and studios for 16 days only to obtain what SAG flatly rejected. What heavy duty bargaining by AFTRA, eh? It’s also the same exact deal (minus the clips issue) which the AMPTP made with the WGA. .(For my reporting, see my previous, AFTRA Deal With AMPTP Caves On Clips.)
Also, I reported a month ago that the AMPTP plans to drag out its talks with SAG into mid-July. Today, finally, Variety has caught up. I also was amused by the way the trade completely spun AFTRA’s all-too-obvious clips cave-in. I’ve learned that SAG found out AFTRA had a deal only by reading it in Variety, which was tipped off by AFTRA and posted yesterday around dawn. Not a very classy AFTRA move to call the trade but not the other actors union.
I’m told that, after finding out a pact had been reached, SAG leadership asked AFTRA’s people for a briefing. AFTRA hemmed and hawed and finally said they could brief SAG, but only at 11:30 AM at 5757 Wilshire Blvd – the exact time SAG would be in negotiations with the AMPTP Wednesday. The only alternate date was sometime next week.
So SAG had a brief …
UPDATE: I’m told that AFTRA’s New Media deal terms are the exact same offered by the networks-&-studios group to SAG on Day 1 of their negotiations last month. So AFTRA negotiated with the networks and studios for 16 days only to obtain what SAG flatly rejected. So that was heavy duty bargaining by AFTRA, eh? It’s also the same exact deal (minus the clips issue) which the AMPTP made with the WGA. See also my AFTRA Skedaddles To Avoid Briefing SAG.
The AFTRA-AMPTP deal closed very early this morning (while I was still asleep). First, here is AFTRA’s press release and fact sheet about it, followed by the AMPTP’s statement and then SAG’s statement. But, in looking it over, I can see right away that AFTRA gave away major concessions when it came to the all-important clips issue by failing to do the heavy-lifting negotiating with the AMPTP and thus leaving all the power over it with the moguls for the next 3 years (and probably in perpetuity).
Just look at what AFTRA failed to wrought re clips in New Media. First, all AFTRA members must now “bargain for consent for the right to use non-promotional excerpts of traditional TV shows in New Media at the time of original employment” with the Hollywood studios and networks for programs produced made after July 1, 2008, which basically leaves AFTRA members powerless and unprotected. But also the new deal doesn’t even outline a formal …
On the eve of the restart of negotiations with the AMPTP, SAG prez Alan Rosenberg sent this message to members. Following it is an AFTRA insider’s response to me:
May 27, 2008
Dear SAG Members,
Tomorrow we will resume TV/Theatrical contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). As you know, the AMPTP suspended our negotiations on May 6 to begin talks with AFTRA for its primetime Exhibit A contract.
Screen Actors Guild observers were present for only 6 of the 18 days that AFTRA has been meeting with the AMPTP. We were proud to invite AFTRA to attend every day of our bargaining sessions. In the event that our committee met in executive session with only senior staff present, or in sidebar with a handful of staff and members, we reported the discussions and results of the sessions and gave AFTRA every document. Unfortunately that level of transparency was not reciprocated. Observers were in fact told they could not attend 12 days of confidential sessions. As a result SAG has not had a representative there for the last week. We don’t have any details about the status of the talks except that AFTRA and the AMPTP are continuing to meet today, and we will resume our negotiations at 10 a.m. at the AMPTP tomorrow morning.
Your National Negotiating Committee remains committed to getting the best terms possible for actors. We have spent the entire 2 ½ weeks since talks were suspended reaching out to members around the country. We held Town
The message below went out from AFTRA’s leadership to its membership just now. In my opinion, it sure looks as if the union is preparing members for a major cave-in on the clips issue. But I must say that hiding behind a Los Angeles Times opinion piece is ridiculous to the extreme. When it comes to clips and their use and compensation for actors, the issue is not so much the Internet but the fact that the studios and networks want to make free and unfettered use of clips for any purpose, including commercial entertainment compilations for which only their Big Media companies would benefit financially. SAG recognizes that any breach in the wall around clips is a disaster. There is no way actors should cave on this just so retiring AMPTP prez Nick Counter can have a last hurrah at their expense.
May 25, 2008
Dear AFTRA Member:
For more than two weeks, your Primetime Negotiating Committee has been working hard to achieve significant gains in wages and working conditions for AFTRA members who work under our contract covering primetime network dramatic programs (Exhibit A of the AFTRA Network Television Code). Here is where things currently stand.
Our talks with the employers have been both constructive and productive, and your committee remains committed to reaching a fair agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). To that end, I can report that we are prepared to bargain continuously, for as long as
This email was sent by AFTRA to members today about the AMPTP talks:
May 19, 2008
Dear AFTRA Member:
As you know, AFTRA has been in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on our contract covering primetime network dramatic programs—also known as Exhibit A—since May 7. Because a press blackout is in effect for these talks, I felt it was important to contact you directly with you a brief update.
We are confronting a number of challenging issues, and a resolution may not be quick or easy. However, our discussions with the Industry have been professional and businesslike, and we remain focused on continuing negotiations in this vein.
As expected, there are several significant issues in the area of New Media—including, most notably, how AFTRA members will participate in original New Media productions, and under what circumstances employers can exploit excerpts from traditional TV programs in New Media. The AFTRA Negotiating Committee is engaged in thoughtful and pragmatic discussions about how to ensure that performers are best protected as we consider these thorny issues. We’ve already delivered a strong message that performers will not relinquish consent for excerpts in New Media, which would compromise the integrity of members’ work, their reputations, or their employability in scripted programming. The Negotiating Committee is also mindful of the hard realities affecting the television business today—including audience fragmentation, piracy, and the other complexities arising out of the fast-evolving New Media landscape—and the impact this has on the wages and job
LOS ANGELES (May 6, 2008) – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) announced that its Primetime Negotiating Committee, comprised of 31 working actors, will commence formal talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) regarding a new three-year Exhibit A of the Network Code agreement tomorrow, Wednesday, May 7.
Exhibit A of the Network Code covers such AFTRA primetime network TV dramas and situation comedies as Rules of Engagement, Cashmere Mafia, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Flight of the Conchords, Dante’s Cove, The Reaper, and Til Death. AFTRA’s current primetime television contract expires June 30, 2008.
AFTRA’s negotiating team for the primetime talks will be headed by Primetime Negotiating Committee Chairman Matthew Kimbrough, along with AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. The talks will take place at AMPTP headquarters in Encino, California.
AFTRA will adhere to a press blackout during the talks.
Excuse me for having an institutional memory, but today’s announcement raises more questions than it answers. Wasn’t AFTRA bitching and moaning about how SAG wanted to wait too late to start negotiating with the Big Media moguls’ AMPTP? And wasn’t the AMPTP bitching and moaning about this as well? So why would the AMPTP now ask AFTRA to delay the start of official talks? And why would AFTRA suddenly agree? Are these organizations hopelessly inept or corrupt or what? Funny, SAG was getting dissed left and right and yet it’s now doing what it always said it would do: negotiating with the AMPTP in a timely fashion.
UPDATE: I’m told that SAG and the AMPTP have agreed to extend their bargaining session through May 2nd after starting on April 15th. It was only supposed to last two weeks. So now AFTRA has pushed back a week. An AFTRA insider who read this post just emailed me: “So why wouldn’t AFTRA want to cooperate? Isn’t it in everyone’s interest for SAG and the AMPTP to have a reasonable shot at making a fair deal that will keep the industry working? If AFTRA had refused to give SAG any additional time, you’d have been all over them for being short-sighted and selfish. And you’d have been right.” Here’s the AFTRA statement:
AFTRA AGREES TO POSTPONE START OF PRIMETIME TELEVISION CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS
LOS ANGELES (April 23, 2008) — The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the national labor union