Wednesday, July 9, 2008

AFTRA Approves Three-Year AMPTP Pact

With a 62% approval vote, AFTRA has ratified their agreement with the producers and put the squeeze on their union counterpart. SAG was waiting and hoping that this deal would be rejected so that they would have more leverage going into their negotiation. But this vote severely weakens SAG's position and further indicates that actors do not want to strike.

"In a prepared statement, the AMPTP said, 'We appreciate today's vote of confidence by actors in the agreement we negotiated with AFTRA, and hope that it demonstrates to SAG's Hollywood leadership that there is support for the new economic relationships we have built with writers, directors and actors -- and not much support for a strike, whether de facto or real.'"

Approximately 40,000 actors are members of both unions, another indication that SAG needs to work with the current deals already agreed to by AFTRA and the writers union. The digital landscape is changing rapidly and a three year deal by AFTRA is not so long to continue to have a seat at the table as technology, content, and distribution keep developing and to reflect changing usage.

As a recent CTAM report indicates, online usage is growing rapidly, but television viewing remains king. The dvr is an important device for tv use and continues to rank highest against other content screens. As HD becomes more available and tv screens become larger, the television set should remain the key driver for video usage over the foreseeable future. SAG should accept a short term deal, study the trends and work across unions to devise an adequate revenue split. Then they should approach AMPTP to negotiate a future agreement.