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SAG-AFTRA strike continues as talks break down


Members of the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild walk a picket line on Day 1 outside NBC Universal in New York City on July 14, 2023. 

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Forget about a Hollywood ending for actors and studios — for now.

After just under two weeks, negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke down Wednesday night.

It appears that wages and artificial intelligence protections remain sticking points between actors and studios.

The AMPTP claims that SAG-AFTRA’s offer would cost more than $800 million per year, a sum that studios said would “create an untenable economic burden.” SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating team countered on Thursday, accusing studios of using bully tactics to misrepresent the cost of the actor’s proposal, overstating the price by 60%.The two parties have also clashed on what guardrails should and should not be attached to the use of AI.

With the dissolution of talks, the strike will rage on, disrupting marketing campaigns and preventing production from commencing on a significant portion of Hollywood’s film and television projects.

While some talk shows, like those of late-night heavyweights Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, returned following the WGA deal, most scripted programs remain dark. Some independent productions have managed to continue by agreeing to SAG-AFTRA’s interim agreement.

If negotiations do not continue or become resolved soon, more theatrical film release dates will be delayed, disrupting the box office, and television releases will be pushed.

Short-lived hope

Hollywood and industry observers had hoped negotiations would move quickly in the wake of the Writers Guild of America’s deal with the AMPTP last month. Writers officially ratified the new contract earlier this week.

But Wednesday’s bad turn dashed those hopes.

“After meaningful conversations, it is clear that the gap between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA is too great, and conversations are no longer moving us in a productive direction,” the AMPTP said in a statement Wednesday.

Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA’s negotiators claim that the proposal from AMPTP was “shockingly, worth less than they proposed before the strike began.”

“These companies refuse to protect performers from being replaced by AI, they refuse to increase your wages to keep up with inflation, and they refuse to share a tiny portion of the immense revenue your work generates for them,” SAG-AFTRA negotiators wrote in a letter to striking actors.

The AMPTP said common issues, like general wage increases, SVOD residuals and viewership bonuses, were the same terms ratified by the Directors Guild of America and the WGA.

The WGA secured pay increases in each of the next three years, artificial intelligence restrictions and a new residual system for streaming based on viewership. The guild also negotiated higher contribution rates to health benefits and pensions, as well as a guaranteed number of writers in writers’ rooms for television shows.

SAG-AFTRA is looking to improve wages, working conditions and health and pension benefits, as well as establish guardrails for the use of AI in future television and film productions. Additionally, the union is seeking more transparency from streaming services about viewership so that residual payments can be made equitable to linear TV. The guild is also looking to standardize the self-tape process.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is a member of the AMPTP.



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