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AMPTP says it offered SAG $1bn in increases, blasts ‘disingenuous’ response

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the Hollywood studios in labour negotiations, has claimed that it offered actors’ union SAG-AFTRA increases equating to US$1bn over its previous contract before talks broke down in dramatic fashion last week.

Carol Lombardini

The trade association said SAG-AFTRA “continues to mischaracterise” how negotiations unfolded and that the union is seeking to “deliberately distort” the offers put forth by the AMPTP.

The assertion came after SAG-AFTRA on Monday night shared specifics of its version of how negotiations transpired, accusing the AMPTP of “stonewalling” the union and “delaying” negotiations.

SAG-AFTRA said it proposed a general wage increase of 11% in the first year of the deal and 4% in the subsequent two years. According to the actors’ union, the AMPTP countered with an offer of 5% in the first year, 4% in the second and 3.5% in the third.

SAG-AFTRA also said the studios outright rejected a proposal to change the residual structure for projects shown on streaming services.

On the AI front, which has become a hot-button issue for both actors and writers, SAG-AFTRA claimed it proposed a “comprehensive set of provisions to protect human-created work and require informed consent and fair compensation when a ‘digital replica’ is made of a performer, or when their voice, likeness or performance will be substantially changed using AI.”

The union, led by president Fran Drescher, said the AMPTP failed to address many vital concerns relating to AI, “leaving principal performers and background actors vulnerable to having most of their work replaced by digital replicas.”

Fran Drescher

“We need transformative contracts, yet remain far apart on the most critical issues that affect the very survival of our profession,” said SAG-AFTRA of the broader demands of the union. “Specifically, we need fair compensation that accounts for inflation, revenue sharing on top of residuals, protection from AI technology and updates to our pension and health contribution caps, which haven’t been changed in decades.”

The AMPTP countered that the proposals shared by SAG-AFTRA did not include some of the offers made verbally to union leaders on July 12.

According to the AMPTP, the US$1bn it offered in increases spanned wages, pension and health contribution, residual increases and “first-of-their-kind protections” for AI.

“For SAG-AFTRA to assert that we have not been responsive to the needs of its membership is disingenuous at best,” said the AMPTP, which is led by president Carol Lombardini and represents companies including Amazon/MGM, Apple, Disney/ABC, Fox, NBCUniversal/NBC, Netflix, Paramount Global/CBS, Sony and Warner Bros Discovery.

The AMPTP said its offer included the “highest percentage increase” in minimums in 35 years; a 76% increase in high-budget SVoD foreign residuals; substantial increases in pension and health contribution caps; a “groundbreaking” AI proposal that protects performers’ digital likenesses, including a requirement for performer consent for the creation and use of digital replicas or for digital alterations of a performance; substantial pay increases for background actors; first-ever fixed residual payments for stunt coordinators on TV and high-budget SVoD projects; and a 58% salary increase for guest star performers on high-budget SVoD programmes.

The claims and counterclaims continue a bitter back and forth between the studios and SAG-AFTRA, whose members joined the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on the picket lines last week, shuttering almost all unionised production across the US.

Negotiations broke down spectacularly last week and, given how far apart the two sides appear to be on multiple fronts, it appears unlikely a resolution can be reached swiftly.

At the same time, networks including Paramount Global-owned CBS are being forced to overhaul their fall schedules as they prepare for a new broadcast season without any new scripted product.

A report from US credit rating and research agency Moody’s released earlier this week suggested the US studios will see collective annual cost increases of between US$450m and US$600m once they have negotiated new deals with the WGA, SAG-AFTRA and the DGA, the latter of which signed a new agreement last month.


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