The Screen Actors Guild is asking its members for strike authorization over its basic made-for-cable contract, which hasn’t been revised in 16 years.
SAG announced Wednesday it will hold caucuses next week in Hollywood, Chicago, Miami, New York and San Francisco for members who work the cable contract. Negotiations on the deal launched Jan. 30, but talks haven’t taken place for several weeks.
Under the current contract, performers receive 12% of the minimum of $716 for the first rerun, down to 1% for the 13th rerun and beyond. SAG leaders contend the residual structure needs to reflect the steady growth of basic cable’s audience and revenues — up from $2.2 billion in 1992 to $10.9 billion last year.
“The guild has been negotiating with producers for several months, yet the producers’ last offer does not reflect the extraordinary growth of the cable industry,” SAG said Wednesday. “Our members deserve a fair increase in residuals.”
The DGA and WGA residual rates for basic made-for-cable are significantly better than SAG’s, starting at 17% of minimum. SAG network rates are also much higher than the cable rate, with performers receiving 100% for the first rerun up to $3,200.
In another development Wednesday, negotiators for the ad industry pressed SAG and AFTRA about the industry’s proposal to extend the current commercials pact for a year in order to perform a study of changing revenue models. That pact expires Oct. 29.
SAG hasn’t yet agreed to an extension, first proposed by the ad industry last year. Guild said Wednesday its negotiating committee will meet soon to consider the proposal.
Ad industry announced it was seeking an independent consultant to develop alternate methods to compensate actors for their work in commercials. It asserted the current formula was developed to meet the needs and problems of the early 1950s.
“We need a new, equitable approach to talent payment — one that recognizes that consumers are viewing commercials on cell phones and iPods, and advertisers are using digital editing to customize messages for very narrow audiences,” said Doug Wood, the industry’s lead negotiator. “Continued reliance on an outmoded compensation structure will lead to out-of-control costs and administrative burdens on the one hand and failure to account for all uses of a commercial on the other.”
For its part, SAG acknowledged the concerns about complexity of the ad industry but downplayed the costs of actors.
“Notwithstanding that complexity, the truth is that talent costs are generally less than 2% of the industry’s media costs,” SAG said. “So it goes without saying that we share the industry’s commitment to ensuring that actors are fairly compensated.”