Federal mediator supervises second meeting

The Screen Actors Guild and the majors have started their second consecutive day of face-to-face talks under the supervision of a federal mediator.

Neither side had any comment about the session, which began at mid-afternoon today at the Sherman headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

Federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez has insisted on confidentiality about the talks, which launched Thursday with a 12-hour session lasting until 11 p.m. No timetable’s been announced yet for additional sessions.

Early indications were that progress appears to have been negligible, according to people familiar with the meeting. Most of Thursday’s session was devoted to each side re-stating its positions.

Both sides have remained far apart on the key issue of compensate actors for work made for the Internet and for programs and features re-used on the Web.

Before turning to mediation, SAG unsuccessfully attempted to restart negotiations Sept. 30 by announcing a trio of “threshold” issues: new-media jurisdiction for all productions, rather than the $15,000-per-minute budget threshold the majors propose; securing residual fees for made-for-Internet productions when those productions are reused on new-media platforms; and continuing force majeure protections for actors, which the majors have sought to eliminate.

For its part, the AMPTP’s insisted it won’t change the final offer to SAG — issued June 30 as SAG’s master contract expired — and stressed that the offer’s terms are similar to those in deals with the WGA, DGA, AFTRA, IATSE and casting directors.

SAG and AMPTP negotiators achieved minimal progress in more than 40 sessions between April and July before talks broke off on July 16.

SAG’s negotiating committee has the power to ask the guild’s 120,000 members for a strike authorization, which would require 75% approval by those voting for the guild to go out on strike. The final decision on striking would rest with the national board, where control shifted to a less assertive coalition in September elections and away from the more aggressive Membership First faction.

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