Actors, producers to continue negotiations

Agreement made on last scheduled day of talks

SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have agreed to continue their formal talks on the actors contract through Tuesday.

In a joint statement, the union and producers said they "have agreed to extend their negotiations on a day-to-day basis, excluding Sunday, through Tuesday, May 6, at 5 p.m. We have no further comment."

The announcement came as the entertainment industry held its breath Friday to see what, if anything, would come out of what had been the last day scheduled for talks between the two organizations.

Both sides have held formal talks since April 15 on SAG's contract, which expires June 30. Initially, SAG and the AMPTP had penciled in just two weeks to talk, with AFTRA set to begin its negotiations this past Monday.

But at the urging of the AMPTP, AFTRA leaders agreed to put off their talks by one week, rescheduling their start date to this coming Monday. AFTRA did not immediately comment on the extension.

As of late Friday morning, AFTRA was set to begin negotiations Monday and indicated so in a regular email newsletter to its members indicating talks were starting on the contract, which covers dramas and sitcoms on primetime TV, including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and cable, including HBO and Showtime.

The extension gives a little glimmer of hope on the negotiations, which seemed to take a turn for the worse on Wednesday when the AMPTP sent its members a six-page missive indicating there was little both sides have agreed upon, especially in the DVD/home video residuals front.
The AMPTP indicated that SAG initially in the talks rejected the new media platform that the DGA, WGA and AFTRA in its Network Code had already signed.

Then last week, SAG said it would accept the new media framework, though it sought some 70 changes to it, on the condition that the AMPTP accept the union's proposals in traditional media.
The AMPTP rejected the offer, saying it included "doubling the existing DVD formula and huge increase in compensation and benefits" which "would result in enormous cost increases that we are not willing to accept."

SAG responded stating, "The AMPTP knows we did not state that they had to agree to all of our non-new media proposals."

SAG's national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen and president Alan Rosenberg have been outspoken about their desire to change the 22-year-old DVD/home video residual formula and have stated they won't follow the path the other unions have taken in taking the issue off the bargaining table in order to move forward in the talks.

With the talks appearing to break down, many in the industry turned their sites to AFTRA, who is likely to hammer out a deal with the AMPTP in less than two weeks.

The union has already successfully negotiated its Network Code, covering daytime TV and reality programs, with the companies, which AFTRA members ratified with a 93% vote this week.

SAG may have been pressured to continue with the talks, considering AFTRA's date with the AMPTP. It's expected that if AFTRA negotiates a deal first, it would open the door to the possibility of the performers union taking over many SAG represented shows. The two performers unions share 44,000 members.