At a special meeting Saturday, the Directors Guild of America’s national board voted unanimously to approve and recommend a new three-year collective bargaining agreement. The tentative deal, announced Friday evening, will now be put to the membership for a vote. The term of the agreement is three years, covering July 1, 2014, when the current contract expires, through June 30, 2017.
“A deal like this doesn’t happen by wishful thinking. It accomplishes our most important objectives thanks to the leadership and wisdom of negotiations co-chairs Michael Apted and Thomas Schlamme and national executive director Jay Roth,” said DGA president Paris Barclay. “And our negotiations committee, made up of more than 65 members, was extraordinarily dedicated, and the DGA staff worked tirelessly for months to support this work – well before the first day of official negotiations. I thank everybody involved for their commitment and devotion to achieving a great new contract.”
Negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers lasted three weeks, Nov. 4-22.
“The issues we negotiated in this round were difficult, complex and not limited to one specific area as in previous negotiations where health and pension or jurisdiction in new media was a singular focus,” explained Roth. “In this round, we sought to protect the future by making significant advances that protect our members working in new media, and securing substantial wage gains to benefit our members working in all areas. This is a very forward looking agreement.”
Highlights of the new agreement include:
Increase in Wages:
o Wage increases of 2.5% in the first year of the agreement and 3% in the second and third years of the agreement, with certain limited exceptions.
Increase in Employer contributions to Pension Plan:
o The Employer contribution rate to the Pension Plan will increase by 0.5% in the first year of the agreement. The DGA has the option to divert this increase to salary, in which case the wage increases would increase by an additional 0.5% in the first year.
Increase in Residuals Bases:
o Residuals will increase 2.5% in the first year of the agreement and 3% in the second and third year of the agreement for all residuals bases other than network primetime, which will increase 2% in each year of the agreement.
o Out of pattern wage increases for directors employed on one-hour basic cable programs.
o Established, for the first time, minimum wages, terms and conditions for high budget original and derivative dramatic new media productions made for subscription video on demand (SVOD) that exceed certain minimum budget thresholds.
o For SVOD services with more than 15 million subscribers, original and derivative dramatic new media productions above a second budget level will receive network primetime rates and conditions. Productions below that second budget level will receive basic cable rates and conditions.
o For SVOD services with fewer than 15 million subscribers, original and derivative dramatic new media productions will receive basic cable terms and conditions.
Below the minimum budget thresholds, rates and conditions will remain freely negotiable.
o Residuals for high budget original and derivative dramatic new media productions made for SVOD shall be paid as a percentage of the applicable network prime time residual base starting in the second year of exhibition.
Ad-Supported Streaming and Cable AVOD Residuals:
o The free streaming window for television programs has been reduced to seven consecutive days for programs after the first seven episodes of a new series, including for cable AVOD.
After the free streaming window, residual rates, which will now include payment for cable AVOD, will increase to 4% in the first year of the agreement, 4.5% in the second year of the agreement, and 5% in the third year of the agreement for programs exhibited for each 26-week period during the one year period following the free streaming window. After the one year period, the employer will pay residuals at the rate of 2% of Employer’s gross.
o Each of the major television studios has agreed to maintain or establish a “Television Director Development Program” designed to expand opportunities for directors in episodic television with an emphasis on increasing diversity.
Establishment of Industry-Wide Joint Diversity Action Committee which will meet at least once every four months.
The new agreement also includes provisions addressing improvements in theatrical and television creative rights, including the pseudonym process and the director’s role in casting; amended residual provisions to encourage sale of library product for second sales in basic cable and secondary digital networks, and compensation for table reads that fall outside of the guaranteed prep period.
“What we have established in new media, advances for the first time minimum wages, terms and conditions for high budget original and derivative dramatic new media productions made for subscription video on demand,” stated Schlamme. “This new agreement ensures that as premium programming continues to be developed for streaming video services, the creative and economic rights of directors and their teams are protected with similar terms and conditions in network, pay television and basic cable.”