AFTRA and producers agree on a deal

SAG and AFTRA members supporting striking grocery workers in late 2003.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: It's beginning to look like Hollywood might not have to live through another strike, by which of course, we mean television audiences won't have their favorite series interrupted again.

Today, film and TV actors moved closer to a deal that could resolve some of the sticky issues that drove writers to the picket lines. One of two actors unions, the smaller American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or AFTRA, has reached a tentative agreement with producers, which means a deal between producers and the Screen Actors Guild may be on the way -- "may" being the operative word there, as Marketplace's Jeff Tyler explains.


Jeff Tyler: The AFTRA deal would mean union members get paid more when their work is streamed or downloaded off the Internet, but it won't earn them higher fees from DVDs.

Writers and directors unions couldn't secure those gains either, but the Screen Actors Guild, or SAG, says it will continue to push for more DVD residuals. That could be harder in the wake of the AFTRA agreement.

Hal Vogel: This is a deal that really takes the wind out of the sails, to some degree, of the SAG negotiations.

That's media analyst Hal Vogel with Vogel Capital Management.

Vogel: Why, you could argue, should SAG have a different settlement than AFTRA if they are really pretty much the same type of situations?

No one in the entertainment industry wants a repeat of the writers' strike, which shut down production for a hundred days and racked up more than a billion dollars in lost revenues.

For actors, the sticking point might not even be financial. Take the use of clips from TV shows and movies:

Michael Speier: The money was never the issue.

Michael Speier is executive editor of Daily Variety. He says actors want to decide how and where their clips are used.

Speier: So the actors want to keep control of that and the studios claim, "Hey, it's our product, just as if it's shoes or hamburgers. We can do with it what we want and we want to control it."

SAG negotiators returned to the bargaining table today. The union has until the end of June before its contract expires.

AFTRA's tentative deal still needs to be approved by union members.

In Los Angeles, I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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