THE AFTRA PRIMETIME TV CONTRACT – THE REAL FACTS
June 13, 2008
SAG: AFTRA gave up significant jurisdiction in New Media.
Truth: AFTRA secured jurisdiction in New Media.
Under the existing AFTRA and SAG contracts, it’s completely up to the producer to
decide whether or not a New Media program will be a union show. Under the new
AFTRA agreement, all derivative productions and all original productions over certain
budget thresholds ($15,000/minute or $300,000/program or $500,000/series, whichever is
lowest) must be union shows. Moreover, original productions with budgets below the
threshold fall under union jurisdiction any time there is a "covered performer" employed
in the production.
SAG: AFTRA abandoned residuals in New Media.
Truth: The AFTRA deal on residuals in New Media follows the
precisely same pattern agreed to in the DGA, WGA, and AFTRA
Network Code agreements.
The new primetime agreement establishes new residual formulas for paid Internet
downloads (electronic sell-through) that significantly increase rates over current levels. It
also establishes residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet.
SAG: AFTRA made no significant gains for middle-class actors.
Truth: AFTRA achieved significant improvements in compensation and
working conditions for ALL categories of performers, including
background performers, guest stars, series regulars, dancers, and
singers, and also provided coverage for warm-up performers.
AFTRA’s new deal increases working actor compensation by more than 10% over the
life of the contract. It also won higher overtime pay for 3-day performers, improved
schedule breaks, and an immediate 6% increase in the major role (“top of the show”)
minimum, followed by additional raises in each year of the contract. Some “middle class”
actors will see their pay jump by almost 400%.
It’s also worth noting that in 2005 AFTRA warm-up performers lost union coverage
when the AFTRA’s Exhibit A contract was synchronized with the SAG TV agreement,
which did not cover warm-ups. In the new agreement, we took an important step toward
getting back what was lost, persuading the studios to join with us in recommending to the
AFTRA H&R Trustees that warm-up performers be made eligible for coverage by the
AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds.
SAG: AFTRA did not protect actors on clip consent.
Truth: The AFTRA contract preserves the requirement that employers
must obtain a performer’s consent before they can use clips of his or her
performances in New Media for non-promotional purposes. Moreover,
AFTRA got the AMPTP to agree to language regarding this issue that
SAG negotiators tried and failed to achieve.
Under the new agreement, the traditional consent rules will apply to clips from programs
produced before July 1, 2008. For clips from programs produced after that date, the
employers will have the option of obtaining consent at the time of original engagement.
SAG: AFTRA did not advance background performer proposals.
Truth: SAG abandoned background performers long ago. AFTRA
achieved major gains for them in both the Exhibit A and the Network
The new AFTRA contract increases the number of covered background actors in Los
Angeles and secures rest provisions for them. It also recovers jobs SAG had abandoned,
once again providing union protection for warm-up performers.
SAG: AFTRA gave up on DVD gains.
Truth: Clinging to proposals about DVDs is misguided and unrealistic
given the business realities and the studios’ unwavering position.
In their negotiations earlier this year with both the WGA and the DGA, the studios made
it clear that the proposal to increase DVD compensation rates was a non-starter. Against
this backdrop, AFTRA felt it made sense to focus its energies on issues where progress
could be made.
SAG: Differences between SAG and AFTRA.
Truth: The AFTRA Network Code and Exhibit A agreements together
cover more than 70% of the program hours carried by the four major
television networks and the CW.
AFTRA has had jurisdiction in television for more than 55 years. AFTRA-covered
primetime TV dramas and situation comedies include “Rules of Engagement,"
"Cashmere Mafia," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Flight of the Conchords," "Dante's Cove,"
“Til Death," “Reaper,” the new CBS programs “Project Gary” and “Harper’s Island," and
the ABC comedy “Roman’s Empire.” In addition, the AFTRA Network Code agreement
covers actors and all on- and off-camera talent on reality shows, syndicated dramas,
daytime serials, game shows, talk shows, variety and musical programs, news, sports, and
promotional announcements. Programs covered by the Code include “American Idol,”
“Dancing with the Stars,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “Good Morning
America,” “20/20,” “The View,” “The Tonight Show,” “Oprah,” “The Price is Right,”
“Deal or No Deal,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “All My Children,” “Saturday Night
Live,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Survivor,” and many more.