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AMPTP to SAG: Benchmark? What benchmark?

The AMPTP has joined the brawl over interpreting terms of the DGA deal.

A day after SAG expressed its deep misgivings about the terms of the directors’ pact, the AMPTP took SAG to task Wednesday over its characterization over the appropriate compensation for paid downloads.

SAG had claimed that the DGA’s doubling of the download residuals formulas — to .7% for TV and .65% in features — was actually an AMPTP rollback since the WGA, SAG and the DGA had filed grievances over the download rate not being at the pay TV rate of 1.2%.

But the AMPTP said SAG’s all wet since none of the guilds ever pursued the grievances; instead, they opted to hold them open and address the issue at the bargaining table. “The bottom line is clear: The 1.2% figure was never a benchmark of any kind,” the AMPTP said. “It was merely a demand that none of the Guilds ever seriously pursued.”

Here’s the entire AMPTP statement —

We believe it is important to correct a mistake that is being perpetuated regarding residual payments for permanent downloads.

In 2006, SAG, WGA and DGA claimed that the appropriate residual formula was the 1.2% residual for pay television. The AMPTP took the position that that the home video formula should apply to these releases. All three Guilds filed grievances on this issue, but the grievances were never pursued by the WGA or the other Guilds.

The bottom line is clear: The 1.2% figure was never a benchmark of any kind. It was merely a demand that none of the Guilds ever seriously pursued. 

To summarize, all three Guilds filed claims in 2006 arguing that the release of television and theatrical motion pictures by electronic sell-through should generate residuals at the pay TV rate. The Companies maintained then, as they do now, that electronic sell-through is another form of home video because, among other reasons, the individual retains a permanent copy.  If the Guilds believed that they had a strong case, they would have pursued their grievance claims; instead, they held them open, preferring to address the issue in negotiations.  This is what the DGA has done. In bargaining its tentative
agreement, the DGA doubled the EST rate for television and secured an 80% residual increase for the EST film rate.