SAG Board Approves TV, Film Contract With Producers

Two-Year Deal Includes Wage Increase but No Resolution on Digital-Rights Compensation

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LOS ANGELES ( -- Advertisers can breathe a bit easier: The national board of the Screen Actors Guild yesterday narrowly voted to approve and recommend to members a new, two-year successor agreement to its lapsed film and TV agreements.

The guild had been working without a contract since June 2008, and while it must still send the pact for a vote by all 120,000 members next month, the weakening economy makes its approval more likely than not. The board's vote was 53.3% to 46.6%.

Already, Hollywood's producers were assuming a more relaxed posture: In a statement released to media, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said that "with this agreement in place, our entire industry can work together to overcome the enormous economic challenges before us."

The actors had sought and received a crucial concession from producers: Namely, that the new SAG contract will span only two years, instead of the usual three. The actors had been seeking to align their contract's expiration with that of the Writers Guild of America's, in the hopes of gaining greater leverage over Hollywood's TV networks and studios.

Many issues still unaddressed
But besides allowing SAG to align its own contract's expiration with that of the WGA, the newly approved SAG deal hardly differs from the producers' last, best and final offer of roughly nine months ago. That means many of the unions' simmering disagreements with producers, such as digital-compensation rights, will need to wait until 2011 for redress.

The proposed agreement also delivers 3.5% effective annual increases -- a 3% wage increase and a 0.5% pension and health contribution increase upon ratification -- and a 3.5% wage increase in year two.

SAG's interim national executive director, David White, seemed to admit as much in a statement released to media: "We're eager to get our members back to work and to focus now on the challenges ahead, particularly on initiating a comprehensive effort to thoughtfully plan for the future."

Indeed, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which suffered an acrimonious split with SAG when it reached a deal with producers last summer, was only complimentary this time. AFTRA President Roberta Reardon said she applauded her sibling union "for bringing a strong contract to the SAG National Board for approval" and commended them for ratifying it.

Separately, SAG and AFTRA's leadership on Saturday unanimously voted up a new, three-year commercial deal, which will also be sent to the two unions 150,000 members for approval shortly.

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