A recent federal tax filing shows the Assn. of Talent Agents paid $500,000 to AFTRA in December as part of the agreement last year for AFTRA to ease ownership rules in its master franchise agreement for agents.
That deal called for ATA — to which most major tenpercenteries belong — to make a payment for “increasing employment opportunities and organizing education projects,” but neither org had ever disclosed the amount of the contribution. AFTRA’s national board approved the revamp of its Rule 12-C regulations in April 2002, a week before members of the Screen Actors Guild spurned a similar revision to its master franchise agreement due to concerns over possible conflict of interest in easing ownership rules.
ATA’s disclosure, made as part of a Form 990 filing for nonprofit orgs, also disclosed that the California Labor Commissioner approved the payment to AFTRA in July 2002.
AFTRA spokeswoman Jayne Wallace confirmed Tuesday that the money had been received in December but noted the efforts at “consolidation and affiliation” with SAG had precluded spending the monies.
“As programs have not yet been developed, no specific allocations for use of these funds have been announced,” she said. “I think it’s fair to say that consolidation and affiliation activity during the first half of the year put some initiatives like these on hold.”
The revamp of the AFTRA master franchise agreement mirrored SAG’s tentative deal, allowing new areas of revenue to be subject to commission and easing agency ownership restrictions to allow ad agencies, advertisers and indie producers to invest up to 20% in the agencies.
AFTRA staff estimated last year that the revamped deal would boost commissions to agents by an estimated $800,000 per year on AFTRA work; the estimated increase in commissions for SAG work was $8 million annually. The spurned SAG-ATA deal also called for setting up SAG-administered funds that would have been funded by up to 50% of the commissions from the new revenue streams and a 1.5% “transfer fee” for the new investments in talent agencies by ad agencies, independent producers and others.
SAG’s national board had approved the ATA deal, but the “no” vote by members resulted in SAG losing oversight over the 100-plus agencies belonging to the ATA and the Natl. Assn. of Talent Representatives. SAG asked the ATA last October to re-launch negotiations, but that effort received a cold shoulder since SAG suggested the talks should take place within a “framework” that acknowledges SAG members’ opposition to easing ownership restrictions.
Despite the ATA contribution, AFTRA ran at a $2 million deficit on revenues of $25 million in its fiscal year ended April 30. The recent defeat of its proposed merger with SAG may lead to AFTRA closing some of its more than 30 local offices.
ATA had no comment Tuesday about the payment.