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AFTRA Actors Approve Contract: What's Next For SAG?

While the media moguls are schmoozing in Sun Valley, all those actors who get your favorite shows on the air have been duking it out over their contract with the producers association, the AMPTP.

AFTRA (American Federation of TV and Radio Artists) voted to ratify the union's primetime deal, the news announced Tuesday evening.

With Hollywood still recovering from a 100-day Writers Guild strike and fears that another would really cripple the industry and inflict billions of dollars of damage, the ratification is no surprise. But still, the fact that 62 percent voting approved of the deal sends a clear message to SAG leadership which has been pushing to reject the deal AFTRA stuck, insisting on snagging a better deal.

SAG pushed AFTRA members to reject the deal. With 44,000 SAG members also belonging to both unions, if AFTRA rejected its contract, it would have opened the door for SAG to ask its membership to authorize a strike. But as is, it seems unlikely that SAG could get the 75 percent SAG endorsement it needs to authorize a strike. (And personally I think it would be far too damaging to the industry for SAG to pull it off.)

But SAG's battle with the AMPTP continues to play out. Tuesday morning the AMPTP announced its meeting with SAG had been set, the organization saying "the Producers remain hopeful that SAG will accept our final offer." Meanwhile SAG is taking its battle here to Sun Valley, running a full page ad in the "Idaho Mountain Express" newspaper on Wednesday, sending a message to the media moguls like Bob Iger, Fox's Peter Chernin, etc, who comprise the AMPTP.

SAG president Alan Rosenberg explains: "This media conference is the place where significant deals get made. We wanted to remind the entertainment media leaders in attendance that there is another important deal to be made...our Screen Actors Gild members want to partner with our industry to invest in and share the rewards of our mutual digital future."

Of course this gets to the heart of what this Sun Valley conference is about; transitioning media to a digital future. How big those revenues are is the worry here. While who gets a stake is what SAG is sweating over.

More on this negotiation will follow later this week.

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