Negotiators stay at the table past deadline
Negotiations between Madison Avenue and actors have gone into overtime.Bargaining has continued early Wednesday morning at the Crowne Plaza in New York, several hours past the midnight expiration of the commercials contract. Both sides have continued to observe a news blackout as negotiators opted to stay at the table past the deadline. The joint SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee still has not asked members for a strike authorization. Taking such a step would take about three weeks and require 75% approval. Bargaining began Feb. 23 and — except for a break of a week in March — has continued since then. The ad industry has been pushing for a revamp of compensation that would be tied to ratings that each network receives rather than current pay-per-play quarterly system on networks and a buyout payment for each quarter an ad runs on cable. The negotiations have included discussion of a pilot study to test pay models. As part of the expired deal, the two sides agreed to commission a study from Booz Allen Hamilton on new compensation models to reflect the shifting economics of the ad biz. Actors currently receive about $900 million annually in compensation under the contract. The ad industry is also seeking $20 million annual in reductions on its contributions to SAG and AFTRA’s pension and health plans, including caps for work by individual performers.