SAG-AFTRA and Studios Agree to Media Blackout as Talks Begin

Michael Buckner/PMC

SAG-AFTRA began negotiations with the major studios on Wednesday, and the two sides have already agreed on one thing: they won’t be talking to the media about it.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and SAG-AFTRA said they will adhere to a media blackout for the duration of talks.

“Today, SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP began formal negotiations for a new contract, and with the agreement that neither organization will comment to the media about the negotiations during the process,” they said in a joint statement.

The AMPTP and the Directors Guild of America also agreed to a media blackout during their talks, which were relatively free of leaks. The Writers Guild of America and the AMPTP did not have a formal media blackout during their negotiations.

SAG-AFTRA is going into talks looking for robust regulations on artificial intelligence, a better streaming residual formula, and restrictions on self-taped auditions, among other items. The contract expires on June 30.

SAG-AFTRA members voted overwhelmingly to approve a strike authorization, giving the leadership the power to call a strike after June 30 if talks break down.

The WGA has been on strike since May 2.

FilmLA, the agency that handles permits for location shoots in the Los Angeles area, said Wednesday that zero TV series have permits to shoot this week. That’s down from one show last week, and five the week before. Normally, dozens of shows would have permits, the agency said.

For all of film and TV — including reality TV, which is unaffected by the strike — permits are down 54.5% this week compared to the same week in 2022.

SAG-AFTRA represents 160,000 performers. If the union calls a strike, any film and scripted TV production that has not already been halted by the writers strike would cease.

The DGA reached a tentative agreement on Saturday night, which was approved unanimously by its national board on Tuesday. It will now go to the members for ratification. The contract includes an increase in foreign streaming residuals and language protecting members from AI.

In the past, DGA contracts have set the pattern for deals for SAG-AFTRA and the WGA, but both of those unions have said they will not be bound by the terms of the DGA contract.

From Variety US