After the heated closing of talks earlier this week between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) it looked like it was going to turn into another nightmare for the entertainment industry. Each left the table on Tuesday angered at one another without scheduling a time to renew negotiations and SAG leadership was even rumored to have called upon its membership to authorize a call for strike.
On Friday, however, both sides agreed to extend their talks on contract renewal. The SAG contract is due to expire on June 30 and if an agreement can’t be reached by then, a strike of the actors is certainly possible and likely.
What both sides agreed to was to talk on a day-to-day schedule only, hoping they can close the deal and end this by as early as Tuesday of next week. Those are high hopes because the rift between SAG and the AMPTP over “new media” is as wide (if not wider) as it was between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the producers, and the WGA strike lasted nearly four full months. WGA’s biggest supporter at the time was SAG.
There are currently 120,000 actors of film and television who are members of SAG. A strike by them, in which the WGA members say they will also support, would be devastating to the industry. Both sides would like to avoid that, but the sticky issue of “new media” revenue looms large.
SAG has made one concession already on this “new media” issue. The actors have said that they would lower their demand to a 15 percent increase in residual payments they earn from DVD and internet downloads of their work. That shrinks down their earlier demand of doubling the rate. One thing SAG says they won’t do is give up their demands on DVD rates entirely as the WGA was forced to eventually do, so that means the AMPTP will either have to agree to that term or try and negotiate it lower.
Other demands from SAG include such things as making the time studios are allowed to stream TV shows without residuals to actors less than its current 3-week period, higher pay for TV guest spots, and more control over their product on the Internet.