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Actors' talks update: SAG negotiations end with no deal, focus now on AFTRA

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After three weeks of “insufficient progress” negotiating with the Screen Actors Guild, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced that it will turn its attention to the other actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, starting today. The goal will be to hammer out a new primetime contract for AFTRA-covered shows like Rules of Engagement, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and ‘Til Death, among others — and, ultimately, to avoid another debilitating Hollywood strike like the writers’ walkout that ended in February. The contracts for both SAG and AFTRA expire June 30.

Although SAG had released a statement saying it was prepared to negotiate around the clock until a deal was done, the AMPTP argued “significant differences” on DVD residuals, streaming, and made-for-new-media prevented its talks with SAG from continuing. “Under these circumstances, with SAG’s continued adherence to unreasonable demands in both new and traditional media, continuing negotiations at this time does not make sense,” said an AMPTP spokesman. But in a statement posted on the union’s website, SAG President Alan Rosenberg argued that negotiations should continue if both sides want to keep the town working. “It is unfortunate and deeply troubling that the AMPTP would suspend our negotiations at this critical juncture,” he said. “We have modified our proposals over the last three weeks in effort to bargain a fair contract for our members. We are committed to preserving rights that have been in place for decades and not giving the studios the right to use excerpts of our work in new media without our consent and negotiation. Our negotiating team is prepared to work around the clock for as long as it takes to get a fair deal.”

For its part, AFTRA has already successfully negotiated a new multi-year contract (a.k.a. Network Code) for its daytime actors and game/reality show talent. It is widely believed that if the AMPTP and AFTRA agree to a new primetime deal, the pressure will be on SAG to make a deal of its own before resorting to another crippling strike. “Our industry was not starting from scratch with this round of SAG negotiations,” said an AMPTP statement, citing the deals the organization made with writers, directors, and AFTRA earlier this year.

But SAG argues that the AMPTP had put forward a proposal that “differed substantially from the deals signed with the DGA and WGA.” SAG claims that the conglomerates’ clip demand “would gut existing provisions regarding actors’ consent to use of their clips and would allow studios and networks to use or sell clips — going forward and from their libraries — in any way they choose and without consent.”

Although SAG had released a statement saying it was prepared to negotiate around the clock until a deal was done, the AMPTP argued “significant differences” on DVD residuals, streaming, and made-for-new-media prevented its talks with SAG from continuing. “Under these circumstances, with SAG’s continued adherence to unreasonable demands in both new and traditional media, continuing negotiations at this time does not make sense,” said an AMPTP spokesman. But in a statement posted on the union’s website, SAG President Alan Rosenberg argued that negotiations should continue if both sides want to keep the town working. “It is unfortunate and deeply troubling that the AMPTP would suspend our negotiations at this critical juncture,” he said. “We have modified our proposals over the last three weeks in effort to bargain a fair contract for our members. We are committed to preserving rights that have been in place for decades and not giving the studios the right to use excerpts of our work in new media without our consent and negotiation. Our negotiating team is prepared to work around the clock for as long as it takes to get a fair deal.”

For its part, AFTRA has already successfully negotiated a new multi-year contract (a.k.a. Network Code) for its daytime actors and game/reality show talent. It is widely believed that if the AMPTP and AFTRA agree to a new primetime deal, the pressure will be on SAG to make a deal of its own before resorting to another crippling strike. “Our industry was not starting from scratch with this round of SAG negotiations,” said an AMPTP statement, citing the deals the organization made with writers, directors, and AFTRA earlier this year.

But SAG argues that the AMPTP had put forward a proposal that “differed substantially from the deals signed with the DGA and WGA.” SAG claims that the conglomerates’ clip demand “would gut existing provisions regarding actors’ consent to use of their clips and would allow studios and networks to use or sell clips — going forward and from their libraries — in any way they choose and without consent.”