DGA seeks reality TV say

Guild to tighten grip on genre

The Directors Guild of America is working to increase its authority over reality TV programs.

Guild’s national board has created an agreement spelling out contract terms for reality skeins produced for primetime on the networks, syndication and pay television. Pact, dubbed the Model Reality TV agreement, was promulgated by the DGA rather than negotiated with the employers. Move by the guild follows six months of feedback from members.

The national board also signaled a strategy to organize shows by approving a 12-month moratorium on disciplining members who have performed DGA-covered duties under different titles — such as exec producer — on non-DGA reality programs.

Guild did not issue any statistical breakdown as to the number of reality shows it already covers.

“The Model Reality TV agreement is a response to a significant shift in the television landscape,” said DGA prexy Michael Apted. “The changes approved by our national board will allow reality-television producers to utilize a topnotch pool of DGA talent on their shows, with greater flexibility in staffing and salaries.”

Apted said the provisions of the pact can be tailored to address specific needs of each production: “We understand that each reality show has its own particularities,” he said

The DGA said the agreement, effective immediately, outlines basic terms and conditions, spells out whether a production is a reality show and establishes minimum salary rates. Other features:

  • The DGA’s now willing to sign single-project agreements.

  • The cap on low-budget reality shows has been lifted to $400,000 from $200,000 as it applies to hiring segment directors.

  • The agreement spells out more clearly the duties of a segment director.

  • Assignment of associate directors to editing duties is now discretionary.

  • Residual payments to segment directors have been simplified.

  • Employers will have increased flexibility in meeting staffing requirements and may opt for “favored-nation” travel on low-budget shows, meaning that DGA crew travel in the same class as producers.

Guild noted the new agreement does not apply to reality shows produced for basic cable, on which terms and conditions remain negotiable.

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