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News and Broadcast Members Unaffected by SAG-AFTRA Strike, Continues Work Under Individual Contracts

NOTE: This article is 9 months old and may not include the most recent information.

Update: The SAG-AFTRA strike is undoubtedly causing significant impact on the industry, affecting tens of thousands. However, it’s important to note that news and broadcast members will not be joining the walkout. The confusion regarding the scope of the strike is being clarified by news industry agents through SAG-AFTRA fact sheets.

News and broadcast members, including reporters, anchors, hosts, and producers, work under individual station or network contracts and not under the TV and theatrical agreement. Therefore, their employment conditions will remain the same during the strike. The union has further advised that “Scripted dramatic live-action entertainment production that is covered by the SAG/AFTRA TV/Theatrical Contracts would be considered struck work and you should not participate.”

While news and broadcast members are not required to join the picket line, the union noted that doing so could be seen as an act of solidarity. SAG-AFTRA also offers assistance to members who are considering joining the picket line but have concerns about journalism conflicts or employer policies, especially as they might be covering the strike.

The union is planning to provide placards for these members to put on their car windshields to indicate their separate agreements. They may also have the option to enter or exit workplaces via a “neutral” gate.

Historically, news broadcasters and personalities have participated in strikes. AFTRA, for instance, which had a significant membership of broadcast hosts and news reporters and anchors, held a 13-day strike in 1967. But for now, these members will continue their work as usual amidst the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike.


UPDATE:

The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has announced a series of strike rules governing work its members can and cannot perform during the ongoing work stoppage. The strike is set to begin at midnight, with actors expected to start picketing by Friday morning. Major film shoots are expected to be immediately shut down.

Given the prohibition of promotion and press of film and TV projects by union members, top talents will not be able to participate in significant industry events like the Venice and Toronto film festivals, Emmy For Your Consideration campaigns, and more. This situation has already impacted the London premiere of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ and is expected to affect the Galway Film Festival, the New York ‘Oppenheimer’ red carpet event, and fan events at Comic-Con.

The union announced the work stoppage after negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke down. SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher criticized the AMPTP’s “historic” offer, calling it “insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry.” She further emphasized that the two parties remain significantly divided on numerous issues.

Prior to negotiations, over 98% of SAG-AFTRA’s voting members had supported a strike authorization in a referendum. High-profile union members like Meryl Streep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jennifer Lawrence had declared their readiness to strike for a transformative deal.

SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have been in negotiations for five weeks while around 11,500 industry writers remain on strike. The union aims to increase member compensation, rework streaming residuals, regulate the use of AI in entertainment, and impose additional restrictions on virtual auditions, which have surged in prevalence since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the strike rules, all covered services and performing work, including on-camera work, off-camera work, promotions, and publicity services for work under the TV/Theatrical Contracts, must be withheld. This covers a wide range of activities, from acting and singing to ADR/looping, stunt coordinating, photo and/or body doubles, interviews and auditions, festival appearances, and more.


End of Update


UPDATE:

In response to the ongoing dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher has labeled actors as the victims of a “very greedy entity,” as the strike is set to officially begin tomorrow. During an emotional press conference, Drescher explained the significant impacts the strike will have on people all across the country and around the world, not only within the union but also those who work in industries servicing it.

Drescher expressed shock at how studio executives are treating actors, stating, “I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history.” She further voiced concern about actors being “marginalized, disrespected and dishonored” by a business model that has been altered by streaming.

The President revealed that picketing would begin tomorrow morning, with stops at prominent studios like Netflix, Paramount, Warner Bros., Discovery, and Disney.

Drescher also reacted strongly against AMPTP’s so-called “historic” offer to the actors, describing it as “egregious and disgusting”. She emphasized that the prevalent use of streaming, AI, and digital technologies in the industry is leading to a transformation that is having a significant negative impact on actors and their livelihoods.

Additionally, National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland criticized AMPTP’s “groundbreaking” AI proposal, arguing that it severely undervalues the intellectual property rights of performers. Despite this, he affirmed that the solidarity amongst SAG-AFTRA members has never been stronger and that the union is willing to continue negotiations with AMPTP in pursuit of an acceptable deal.


End of Update


Hollywood has plunged further into turmoil as the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) announced it would be joining the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on strike. The unprecedented action follows the breakdown of contract negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and major film and television companies, marking the first “double strike” in Hollywood since 1960.

SAG-AFTRA’s National Board officially called for a strike as of midnight tonight, impacting the livelihoods of 160,000 union members. The failed negotiations, according to the union’s national executive director, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, have left them “with no choice” but to join the WGA on the picket lines. Union president Fran Drescher was no less blunt, accusing the studios of pleading poverty and standing “on the wrong side of history.”

This is the first work stoppage called by SAG-AFTRA against film and television companies in four decades. The last strike in 1980 was in response to the lack of a system for profit-sharing on home media releases. It lasted 95 days, evidencing the strength of actors’ unions when their demands are not met.

SAG-AFTRA entered its negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in early June, backed by a strike authorization vote. A total of 98 percent of the union’s voting members approved the potential for a strike if it was deemed necessary. Despite the best efforts of the union’s negotiating team and an extension to the negotiation period, a deal couldn’t be reached.

Even with intervention from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the two sides failed to find common ground. SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee subsequently recommended a strike, which was unanimously backed by its National Board.

The issues at the heart of the dispute revolve around fair pay, audition protections, AI and digital likeness rights, health contributions, and more. SAG-AFTRA insists these are non-negotiable, while the AMPTP accused the union of leaving “our offer of historic pay and residual increases” on the table.

As the strike begins, the impacts are set to be widespread and immediate. With both writers and actors on strike, ongoing productions will need to halt. The financial impact is predicted to be severe and could surpass the $2.8 billion toll (in 2023 dollars) experienced during the 100-day WGA strike 15 years ago.

The strike underscores the shifting power dynamics within the film and television industry, where the growth of streaming platforms and the advent of artificial intelligence are creating new challenges for labor relations. How the studios will respond to this unprecedented double strike, and the effects on the industry as a whole, remain uncertain as this historic event unfolds.

Trevor Decker
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