Directors Guild of America Members Ratify New Contract

Members of the Directors Guild of America have approved a three-year successor deal on the master contract with a major gain in streaming residuals.

The DGA made the announcement Wednesday night, saying approval was by an overwhelming margin. The national board approved the deal in late December and that triggered the ratification vote by its membership, which numbers more than 16,000. The new deal goes into effect on July 1.

“I am happy to report that the DGA membership overwhelmingly voted to ratify the new contract,” said DGA president Paris Barclay.

“Our major gains in SVOD residuals, together with our improvements in wages and pensions, were the result of our forward-thinking preparation. With the groundwork already laid in previous negotiations, this new contract embodies what we knew was possible when we established our first New Media agreement nearly a decade ago. All our thanks go to our Negotiating Committee, led by Co-Chairs Michael Apted and Thomas Schlamme, and National Executive Director Jay Roth, as well as our Guild’s professional staff, for all their determination and hard work.”

The guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers had announced the agreement on Dec. 23. The DGA said residuals for dramatic programs made for High Budget Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) — covering such services as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu — would more than triple the current residuals for members working on original content in the highest subscriber tier, going from $15,000 to $50,000 for three years of re-use.

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The guild also said the deal establishes residuals payments for related foreign SVOD services; significantly increases the residuals for high-budget feature-length projects; and establishes a share of the made for High Budget SVOD residual for unit production managers and assistant directors.

The new deal also includes wage increases of 2.5 percent in the first year of the agreement and 3 percent in the second and third years of the agreement as well as an “outsized” wage gain for directors employed on one-hour basic cable programs. The employer contribution rate to the pension plan will permanently increase in the first year of the agreement from 5.5 percent to 6 percent with the right to allocate up to .5 percent of the negotiated increases in salary rates in the second and third years of the agreement to either the pension plan or the health plan.

Additionally, the new deal contains a provision requiring all first-time dramatic TV directors who do not have prior directing experience – or who have not completed or enrolled in a studio-sponsored TV director development program – to attend an orientation program provided by the DGA before their employment begins. The new agreement also includes provisions addressing safety, expanded rights of members when their work is shown theatrically, and provisions addressing late scripts.

SAG-AFTRA’s current master contract with the AMPTP also expires on June 30, 2017, while the Writers Guild of America’s deal will expire on May 1, 2017. The SAG-AFTRA national board approved the negotiating package on Jan. 21 after completing its required “wages and working conditions” meetings between members and the negotiating committee to craft a contract proposal.

The WGA announced on Dec. 1 that Billy Ray, Chip Johannessen, and Chris Keyser would head its negotiating committee.

Neither SAG-AFTRA nor the WGA have set a start date for talks with the AMPTP.

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