Wednesday, December 17, 2008

AMPTP Trying to Pit SAG vs. AFTRA

According to Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily site, the studios are making rumblings that TV shows are going to be shot more and more under the AFTRA contract (the other actors union) since SAG is being 'unreasonable' in their demands. Her post yesterday:

EXCLUSIVE: 20th TV May Shoot Spring Pilots Under AFTRA And Transition Existing SAG Shows To AFTRA

This morning, I received a tip to check out the rumor that Fox Studios television shows will be going all video/all AFTRA in 2009, that older film shows will be shot on video, and that SAG actors will be renegotiated with AFTRA contracts. Here is the response I received from Twentieth Century Television: "With all the uncertainty surrounding the stalled negotiations with SAG, TCFTV is indeed considering shooting its spring pilots under the AFTRA agreement. As for shows already in production, we are exploring every option including transitioning shows from SAG to AFTRA."

Today, there were several responses:

SAG Statement:

"We should not be surprised by the timing of this new AMPTP attack -- as usual, they are attempting to use scare tactics to influence the member vote in the upcoming strike authorization referendum. Any effort by Twentieth Century Television to shift existing programs from SAG to AFTRA would violate federal law and AFL-CIO rules, and the Screen Actors Guild will take any and all necessary and appropriate action to insure the right of its members to be represented by the Guild."

And AFTRA's statement:

Regarding media inquiries about press reports about an assertion that Fox is transitioning shows from SAG to AFTRA, AFTRA is setting the record straight by offering the following

1) Fox has been a long term AFTRA signatory, historically producing both dramatic and non-dramatic programming under AFTRA’s TV Contract for decades. For example, Married With Children, the program which historians now describe as the show that built the Fox Network, was produced under the AFTRA TV Code. There are countless other scripted programs from Arrested Development to The Bernie Mac Show to Roc and others produced under AFTRA contracts during Fox’s history. As such, the fact that Fox is producing programs under AFTRA contracts is not unusual; indeed, it is consistent with the long history of this Company’s signatory relationship with AFTRA and consistent with the historic ebb and flow of coverage between the two unions as technology has shifted over time.

2) It is more expensive for Fox to produce scripted programming under the AFTRA TV Contract. Prior to July 1, 2008, the rates terms and conditions of the AFTRA TV Contract for Prime Time scripted programs were identical in every way to the SAG TV Contract. As of July 1, 2008, the AFTRA rates have been increased as a result of the membership’s ratification of the new Prime Time “Exhibit A” terms. The inference that Fox is somehow saving money by producing under AFTRA’s Prime Time Contract is incorrect.

And, finally, 3) AFTRA has been absolutely clear and explicit, long before the question of a potential strike by our sister union was contemplated, that a program already established under one union cannot be “converted” or “transferred” to another union. AFTRA is a chartered union of the AFL-CIO, and a member of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America (the Four A’s). As such, the rules and obligations of both the AFL-CIO and the Four A’s would prohibit such a “transfer.” In addition, even if there were no such restrictions under the rules of our parent organizations, it wouldn’t matter. Simply stated, AFTRA would never participate in such a practice. Fox Labor Relations is very well aware of this.

Finally, here's the AMPTP statement on behalf of Big Media:

SAG's overheated statement regarding the organization of pilots cannot obscure the fact that, in the midst of the greatest economic crisis of the past 80 years, SAG is persisting with a failed negotiating strategy that has already cost SAG members nearly $40 million and will cost them potentially hundreds of millions of dollars more during a strike.

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