SAG, ad biz ramp up residuals overhaul

Talent Partners to provide method of verifying accurate payments

SAG and the advertising industry have awarded the first contract to address longstanding complaints from actors shortchanged on TV ad residuals.

The guild and the Joint Policy Committee of the Assn. of National Advertisers and the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies announced Wednesday that they have awarded the contract to Talent Partners — the largest payroll company handling commercial residuals — to explore new procedures and provide a more sophisticated method of verifying the accuracy of payments to thesps.

Move comes six months after SAG reached an agreement with the Assn. of National Advertisers and the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies to jointly support seeking funds for a workable, passive TV ad monitoring system. The orgs received a seven-figure grant last year from the SAG-Producers Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund to create an electronic bridge to SAG pay records to make sure that performers are properly paid for all aired TV spots.

“This is an important first step toward ensuring working actors across the country are fairly and accurately compensated for their work,” said Sallie Weaver, SAG deputy national executive director for contracts.

Under the contract Talent Partners will research the feasibility of calculating residuals based on actual media invoices, rather than the current practice of computing payments from the original media plan — which often changes as spots are broadcast. Six-month study will be followed by the development of a computer application to test the concept. Talent Partners will produce its final product and recommendations by May 2005.

SAG also said Wednesday that a second contract will be awarded this year to test enhanced electronic monitoring, involving a system of tracking commercials directly from network, satellite and cable feeds, to develop data on actual broadcast use.

Funds for monitoring were first earmarked in the 2000 ad contract, which called for the industry to contribute 0.15% of the contract’s value to the SAG-Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund for possible use in this area. With SAG’s annual commercial earnings at about $600 million, the contribution to the IACF has totaled about $4 million.

The issue first flared in 1999, when SAG released a pilot study of 38 ads showing underpayments totaling more than $388,000. As a result, creation of a monitoring mechanism was a key demand in 2000’s six-month strike by SAG and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.

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