July 27, 2008 / 11:43 PM / 9 years ago

Screen Actors board backs negotiators on new media

<p>Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg speaks at a news conference to announce the nominations for the 13th annual Screen Actors Guild awards in West Hollywood, California in this January 4, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The board of the major union for U.S. film and television actors has backed its negotiators’ demands to cover Internet-related work, signaling that contract talks with Hollywood’s studios may remain stalled for weeks.

In talks that reached a stalemate this month, negotiators for the Screen Actors Guild, representing 120,000 performers, have demanded that work distributed on the Internet be covered by a SAG contract, and late on Saturday SAG’s national board voted 68-0 in favor of a resolution reaffirming that idea.

“We have been telling the industry how important it is for all new media productions under our contract to be done union, and how important residuals (fees) for made-for new media programming are when programs are re-run on new media,” SAG National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Doug Allen, said in a statement.

“I am very pleased that our National Board today unanimously confirmed these essential principles in support of our National Negotiating Committee,” Allen said.

SAG’s National Board of Directors adopted the resolution stating a “core principle” of the guild is that “no non-union work shall be authorized to be done under any (SAG) agreement and that all work under a (SAG) contract, regardless of budget level, shall receive fair compensation when reused.”

The statement said the resolution “represents guidance” from the National Board to the contract negotiators.

Those negotiators came under fire last week when a rival faction within SAG launched a campaign to wrest control from leaders they blame for the stalemated contract talks.

A bloc of SAG members calling itself Unite for Strength unveiled a slate of candidates who will seek to gain a majority on the national governing board in elections set for September 18.

Industry watchers said the challenge meant the roughly four-week-old standoff between the union and studios would drag on, and the board’s vote strengthened that idea.

The old SAG contract expired hours after the studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, presented SAG with a “final” offer on June 30. SAG countered with a new proposal on July 10, but the studios refused to budge, insisting they were done negotiating.

Late Saturday, the AMPTP issued a statement saying the refusal of SAG’s negotiators to accept AMPTP’s final offer means “actors will continue to work indefinitely under the expired contract.”

A SAG spokeswoman said there were no new developments on Sunday, while the AMPTP posted on its Web site a tabulation of wages lost by SAG members because they have not taken the AMPTP’s final offer, which calls for some wage increases.

Editing by Todd Eastham

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