SAG, ad biz agree on plan to check pay

ANA, 4As jointly support TV ad monitoring system

Amid widespread complaints that actors are regularly shortchanged on their TV advertising residuals, SAG and AFTRA have wrangled incremental support from advertisers that will help actors know if they’ve been properly paid for their on-air work.

On Tuesday evening, the SAG/AFTRA joint policy committee reached a basic agreement with members of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) to jointly support the application for funding a workable, passive TV ad monitoring system.

Today, commercials are tracked “passively” by monitoring vendors like Nielsen and CMR. But there exists no electronic bridge to SAG/AFTRA pay records such that it could be quickly discerned if a commercials performer had been properly paid for all the aired TV spots in which he or she appeared.

“We need to connect those dots,” said Sallie Weaver, SAG’s deputy national executive director for contracts, adding, “And we need to be able to do it in some effective, efficient way.”

The 2000 ad contract called for the industry to contribute 0.15% of the contract’s value to the SAG-Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund for possible use on monitoring. With SAG’s annual commercial earnings at about $600 million, the contribution to the IACF has totaled about $3 million.

Now, under an agreement hammered out by SAG chief exec Bob Pisano, AFTRA assistant national exec director Mathis Dunn Jr. and the ad industry’s rep, Ira Shepard, the joint policy committee will ask for $500,000 to $750,000 for a workable passive monitoring system for the initial year of the project. That figure is subject to a vote by the trustees of the fund, made up of both advertising and labor reps.

“The reason we’re at the point of using a passive system is that technology exists today,” said Weaver. “Somebody is tracking the scope of television today on a passive system. Nobody is doing it actively: There is nobody who tags every commercial and then figures out what’s happening with all those commercials. That isn’t happening. We took a look at the fact that the passive system is actually happening today, as opposed to hoping and wishing and promising on an active system.”

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