Sunday, August 3, 2008

SAG DVD Residuals Increase: RIP

It seems pretty clear that SAG has dropped its request for an increase in the DVD residual (as I predicted it would have to): an email from National Executive Director Doug Allen to the members an hour ago lists various priorities -- and omits DVD altogether.

The relevant portion of the letter says:

Your interest in and support of the key issues like jurisdiction and residuals for all new media have been invaluable to our negotiations ... We also know that you remain concerned about other key bargaining priorities such as, for example, product integration, force majeure, stunt performers and background actors’ issues.
Three years from now, when the SAG agreement (if one ever gets signed) and WGA agreement expire a month apart, the unions may decide to try once again to increase DVD residuals. They'd be well advised to do so, not just because the DVD/BD (Blu-ray Disc) market will still be worth many billions of dollars, but also because future technologies are likely to include physical media, and these will be paid using the "DVD formula." See Slipped Disc: Why DVD Residuals Still Matter — and Always Will.

Turning from the future back to the present, the letter also seems to say that meetings between SAG and the studios are taking place now, notwithstanding press reports to the contrary:
Your negotiators are working every day to successfully conclude negotiations .... Right now, that involves small group meetings and exchanges with the employers, their AMPTP representatives and a core group of leaders in both organizations. ... You will not doubt read spin suggesting that there is dead silence between our sides. ... Discussions through alternative channels are ongoing....
Sorry if I remain skeptical, but I doubt progress is being made now, or that any will be made until after the SAG elections conclude on September 18. In my view, the soonest we'll see a deal is early October, and there's no assurance of that. It all depends on the election results.