The Directors Guild and management’s AMPTP will begin negotiations for a new film and TV contract on Feb. 10, making the DGA the first guild – as it has been in the last two bargaining cycles – to sit down with the companies, and thus setting the pattern of bargaining in which the AMPTP will expect the WGA and SAG-AFTRA to follow.
The DGA and the AMPTP have agreed that neither organization will comment to the media. Their current expires on June 30.
Compensation from streaming services is expected to take center stage in the talks. In a message to the guild’s members, DGA Negotiations Committee co-chairs Jon Avnet & Todd Holland said that: “On February 10, the DGA will commence formal negotiations with the AMPTP for the Guild’s major contracts – the Basic Agreement and the Freelance Live and Tape Television Agreement.
“As has been our practice for decades, we’ve been immersed in our months-long preparation process. That includes examining the creative and economic issues faced by our members; collecting and analyzing research and data; listening to our Councils, Committees, and members; and coordinating it all to develop our negotiating proposals. As our priorities come into focus, we also engage with the AMPTP companies about upcoming negotiations, and the issues to be addressed. With history as our guide, we know that putting in the work of careful planning, research, and deliberative discussions with Employers increases the likelihood that there will be a thorough examination of the issues, and a successful conclusion to negotiations.
“While we have begun negotiations earlier in some past cycles, what dictates timing is our process, not a particular target date. We are in the midst of a complicated, rapidly changing and evolving industry with studios continuing to consolidate and become increasingly vertically integrated, and new streaming services like Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Peacock coming online. With this new landscape are complex issues to confront – and so it should come as no surprise that going through our process has been a lengthier undertaking than in previous years.
“There will likely be a period where you won’t hear from us in observance of our mutually agreed upon media blackout with the AMPTP. Know that we are clear-eyed about the challenges ahead. This will be a hard-fought negotiation. But with a united membership behind us, and a Committee and staff who are well prepared, we are dedicated to fighting for a contract that will protect and advance your rights now and into the future. We will accept nothing less.”
The DGA has struck the film and TV industry only once in its 84-year history – back in 1987, and then for only 15 minutes on the West Coast and for 3 hours and 15 minutes on the East Coast before reaching a quick deal with the AMPTP.
The WGA’s contract expires on May 1 – two months before the expiration of the DGA’s current pact, and the writers could be on a collision course with the studios over its demand that they only negotiate with talent agencies signed to the WGA’s new franchise agreement. That’s something the AMPTP refused to do last March when the WGA attempted to drag the companies into its ongoing battle with the agencies over packaging fees and agency affiliations with corporately related production and distribution entities.