There are several significant issues in the area of New Media—including, most notably, how AFTRA members will participate in original New Media productions, and under what circumstances employers can exploit excerpts from traditional TV programs in New Media.
AFTRA has already delivered a strong message to AMPTP that performers will not relinquish consent for excerpts in New Media, which would compromise the integrity of members’ work, their reputations, or their employability in scripted programming.
Detail on the AMPTP's Clips Proposal
- The primary dispute is over the re-use of film and television clips in new media for non-promotional uses. The use of clips for promotional purposes is already permitted.
- AMPTP is proposing a new structure tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities of new media; SAG wants to carry over 50-year-old union rules.
- A significant black market for clips already exists. Clips are already available on black market Web sites and video sharing services as a result of Internet piracy. These clips will be out there with or without our industry. That means that actors have already lost control over their images without receiving any compensation whatsoever.
- There is the potential to create a significant legal market for clips, which would generate new revenue for actors. Given the public demand that already exists in the black market, there is a high likelihood that a "clips iTunes" would be a success.
- Film and television libraries are essential to the creation of the new, legal market. Existing rules would require the Producer to bargain hundreds or thousands of times with an individual performer over clips from a single series or feature.
- Under 50-year-old SAG and AFTRA rules, clips from the library, even those lasting only a few seconds, can only be used if the Producer "bargains" separately with every performer in the clip and reaches an agreement to pay each performer at least the day player minimum of $759. This administrative burden will prevent the industry from developing a lawful clips market and allow black market to flourish on its own.
- AMPTP has never proposed to sell clips without paying actors. Indeed, a legitimate market would generate brand new sources of income for Guild members.
- Producers also have no incentive to producers to devalue their own product by allowing clips to be used for unauthorized purposes. AMPTP has proposed various safeguards – including continued consent for scenes involving nudity – to help protect actors from what is now occurring on the black market.
Last month (April 30) AFTRA members ratified the Network Television Code by an overwhelming 93.35% approval.
The AFTRA Network Code agreement covers actors and all on-camera and off-camera talent on all forms of television programming: reality shows, syndicated dramas, daytime serials, game shows, talk shows, variety and musical programs, news, sports, and promotional announcements. Programs covered by the Code include “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20,” “The View,” “The Tonight Show,” “Oprah,” “The Price is Right,” “Deal or No Deal,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “Days of Our Lives,” “All My Children,” “Cake,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “Survivor,” among others.
“The membership vote overwhelmingly affirms the hard work of the AFTRA members who served on the Negotiating Committee that achieved gains for all performers,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon. “The new Code provides increased wages, improved working conditions, and stronger protections for AFTRA members working across all program formats, as well as new provisions to cover reuse and production of content in new media as it evolves.”
Improvements in the new Network Code include:
• Increases in program fees in all categories of performers and program formats
• Starting November 2008, initial rates for principals on non-prime time dramatic programs will track prime time one-day, three-day and weekly rates
• New day rates for dancers have been negotiated for certain program formats
• New terms for reuse of programming in new media, and the production of material made directly for new media, with improved disclosure in information to be provided to the union during the next two years
• Increased contributions to the Health and Retirement Plans
• Retroactive pay increases of up to 3.5% for most performers from November 16, 2007
Negotiations between members of AFTRA’s 35-person Negotiating Committee and the networks and producers began February 19 in Los Angeles, and were concluded on the evening of Saturday, March 8 in New York. The agreement received unanimous approval by the AFTRA National Board approval on March 29. The new three-year pact is effective from November 16, 2007 to November 15, 2010.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, is a national labor union of over 70,000 actors, singers and recording artists, dancers, announcers and other broadcast talent performers, journalists, and other artists working in the entertainment and news media. With more than 30 local chapters across the country, AFTRA promotes the success and welfare of members in a variety of ways, including contract negotiation and enforcement, advocating on legislative and public policy issues, supporting equal employment opportunities, and sponsoring or supporting health and retirement benefits and programs. For more information, visit http://www.aftra.com.