While many of the Entertainment Law matters that dominate the daily headlines involve litigation, a number of Entertainment’s legal issues also get settled through private negotiations outside the media glare: Just this weekend, for example, SAG-AFTRA’s Executive Board ratified new contracts –the TV Animation Agreement and Basic Cable Animation Agreement. Negotiations that led up to these accords lasted three days. The agreements address pay raises, increased contributions to Pension & Health/Health & Retirement Funds, and reduction in unpaid free streaming, as well as a new, residual from free, on-demand viewing through cable boxes.
SAG-AFTRA also said in a statement that it is beginning negotiations for The National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, which covers syndicated dramatic programs, daytime serials, promotional announcements, variety, quiz, game, reality, talk, news, sports and other non-dramatic programs. The current contract expires Nov. 15 and negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers are set to begin Nov. 3.
For those of you who need reminding, in 2012, the two labor unions, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artist (AFTRA), merged to form SAG-AFTRA. It represents more than 165,000 actors, and various other performers. The 2012 merger involved extensive negotiations, and now, the unions work together to negotiate the best wages, benefits and working conditions for their members.
Meantime, while the real labor action was under way, the final competition at the fifth annual Southwestern Entertainment Law Negotiation Competition — hosted by Southwestern’s Negotiation Honors Program and involving participants from ABA accredited law schools all over the United States — saw law students in many of their hypotheticals wrestling with issues involving entertainment unions and associations. These prompted lively discussions about the importance of labor negotiations and matters in Entertainment Law practice.