Showbizreporting's Blog

June 2, 2009

But it is not the “End of Residuals” (Jan. 7, 2009)

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 12:45 am
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You bet I do.  And that is why I am fighting for SAG to stay strong and work toward getting the benefits that were  managed to be secured by the WGA, DGA, and more specifically to our needs, AFTRA.  

SAG’s scary rhetoric about the dire need for the strike authorization is misleading – and frightening – particularly on the subject of residuals. But it is not the “End of Residuals” – it is the beginning.  Over the  last months, as part of its “education” campaign, SAG staff has made trips to sets telling series actors that if we  don’t take a strike (authorization) residuals for actors on network series will go from our current $3200 (for a one-hour) to a mere $27 – next year.  There are a few videos being passed along to this affect as well.

What SAG does not make clear is that this scenario supposes that the networks would immediately stop airing their reruns on TV and post them only on the internet.  SAG can not support this assumption, nor explain what the networks would do with all those empty hours  of prime-time programming, or why they would give up that ad revenue on product they already have in hand.  They just continue to chant the mantra until it becomes accepted as fact.

The actual fact is that if SAG got only what AFTRA achieved with its new contract, the $3200 network residual would itself go up (with cost of living  raises) – and it would be supplemented with an additional $27 if the  show was aired on the internet.

I know – we all know  – that is not huge money. In fact, one could call $27 a pittance.  But it is a foothold.  And that is what we need right now in the internet: a foothold – jurisdiction.  What’s more, that 27 bucks is more than we get when some network programs are rerun on cable. And it is more than we have been getting from internet airings while working under the expired SAG contract – which is zero.  

AND most important, it is only for the next 2 1/2 years: After that, the new contract requires that it be completely renegotiated based on real world figures: the money producers made in this  market  during the intervening years.

I have heard the cry, “this is cable all over again.”  No it is not.  We learned from cable.  We built in the safeguard of the sunset clause.  And, some of us are planning the essential element of strategy to have ONE bargaining unit by the next negotiation.  We are not simply saying, vote no on strike.  We are mapping out a strategy to ensure that this does not happen again in 2 years.   

For more facts – go to:  

http://sagdecision.com/

And

http://blog.sagwatch.net/

And

http://digitalmedialaw.blogspot.com
  

Here is an excerpt from Jonathan Handel ‘s post “SAG: No Good Reason to Strike”:  

“SAG Statement: The new media deal will be “the end of residuals as we
know it.” Analysis: This statement pretends that the rather distant future is today. It’s a form of fear-mongering that telescopes reality, and is built on two assumptions: (1) The assumption that broadcast networks will  completely stop rerunning programs on their networks, and rerun programs only as move over content on their websites. (2) The  assumption that broadcast networks and cable channels will completely  stop creating scripted programs for their networks and channels, and create programs only as original made for new media content.

These are two big and speculative assumptions. Studios and networks would do these things only if the audience has virtually all disappeared from existing networks and cable channels, and all migrated to
the Internet. That’s not going to happen any time soon, for reasons discussed in the preceding four “SAG Statement” items.   

Indeed, it may never happen at all; the future is a slippery thing.   So far, the Internet is a supplemental market, not a replacement market. That’s because the large audiences and large ad dollars are still in  television, not the Internet. As long as this remains true-as long as the networks use their traditional networks and the Internet- then the Internet compensation/residuals will be additive to the compensation  and residuals provided by traditional media.

Also, if this does happen-if the audience does move entirely to the Internet-the producers and networks are likely to make a lot less money than they have to date…

But if the producers figure out how to MAKE their money on that – and they probably will – we will know what that money is and be in a position to demand our piece of it, as long as we are by then a united front.

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