Archive for April 20th, 2009

Northern Funding

20th April 2009 by Maura McHugh

Northern Ireland Screen (NIS) is hosting a Funding Information Session on Wednesday 29th April from 4pm-6pm in the Holiday Inn, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast.

Those who wish to attend the meeting to find out more information about the funding programmes available from the NIS should email rsvp@northernirelandscreen.co.uk before Wednesday 22nd April to secure a place.

SAG Closer to Deal

20th April 2009 by Maura McHugh

Variety reports that the national board of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) has passed its new feature-primetime contract by a slim majority: 53.4% to 46.6%.

Now, the contract must be ratified by its 120,000 guild members. A pitched PR battle is expected between the factions in SAG who support the new deal (headed by interim national exec director David White, and Ned Vaughn, leader of the Unite for Strength faction) and oppose the contract (headed by SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg).

The ballots will be posted out in early May, and must be returned by the end of the month.

The board’s approval came two days after SAG execs and the congloms hammered out final details of the pact. SAG toppers announced the tentative deal Friday afternoon, 10 months after the previous pact expired. A key to Friday’s tentative deal was the congloms’ agreement to SAG’s demand for an expiration date in June 2011. That date will keep SAG in sync with the WGA, DGA and AFTRA expirations, which allows solidarity in future negotiations. But SAG won’t get any retroactive pay gains — worth $67 million, according to the companies — under the new deal.

The proposed SAG deal contains the same general new-media terms as the WGA, DGA and AFTRA pacts, meaning that all the drama from Rosenberg and his team for the past 10 months ends with a whimper, not with a bang.

Both sides agree that the contract battle has left SAG in a weaker position. Rosenberg has complained repeatedly that the lack of unity among board members wound up de-leveraging the guild, while the moderates contend that Doug Allen — handpicked in 2006 by Rosenberg to be national exec director — bungled the negotiations.

SAG’s deal includes a 3.5% annual hike in minimums — a 3% salary hike in the first year plus a 0.5% gain in pension and health contributions in the first year and a 3.5% salary increase in the second. And it spells out the pay structure for shows streamed on and made for the Internet. That’s the same deal the companies offered on June 30 but was spurned by the hardliners who advocated holding out for sweeter terms.

Vaughn said the 2011 contract termination date — rather than the 2012 date sought by the congloms — was key in getting the new deal approved by the moderates on the board. “This deal will put SAG in position to bargain for better new-media terms in the 2011 round of negotiations, since we’ll be in synch with the other unions,” he added.