The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has initiated a strike, causing a significant disruption to television and film production across the United States. While scripted programming is expected to be heavily affected, there are certain projects that actors can continue working on while the other productions are currently shut down.
SAG-AFTRA strike authorization
SAG-AFTRA has announced a strike after failing to reach a deal with the AMPTP. The strike is mainly about getting better protections for actors regarding AI and fair payments for streaming work. It is noteworthy that both actors’ and writers’ unions are currently on strike simultaneously, marking the first occurrence of such an event since 1960. In June, SAG-AFTRA members voted overwhelmingly, with 97.91% supporting strike authorization.
While the AMPTP has defended its negotiations, presenting a deal with “historic pay increases” and a “groundbreaking AI proposal,” among other protections, the union announced the strike as a last resort after the AMPTP failed to address actors’ concerns. SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher expressed disappointment at a press conference, stating, “We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us.”
The SAG-AFTRA strike applies to work that’s performed under the union’s theatrical and TV contracts. This means that actors are prohibited from participating in scripted television shows or major feature films, including those on networks, cable, and streaming services. Additionally, they can’t promote any television or film projects falling under these contracts. It’s important to note that the theatrical and TV agreements are separate from the SAG-AFTRA Network Television Code. This agreement is covering unscripted television on TV or digital media. Therefore, game shows, variety shows, award shows, reality competition shows, talk shows, soap operas, and documentaries that aren’t theatrically released, are exempt from the SAG strike and can continue production. According to official SAG-AFTRA guidance, actors can still work on commercials, and that influencer-sponsored content, as well as music videos, broadcast news, sound recordings, video games, audiobooks, corporate and educational content, and television animation. Podcasts operating under SAG-AFTRA agreements can also continue, alongside independent or student films. The independent film producers who aren’t part of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which is the group against which SAG-AFTRA is striking, are able to apply for various interim agreements which will allow their projects to proceed. SAG-AFTRA has a separate cable agreement with various channels which won’t be impacted by the strike too.
One of the immediate impacts of the SAG strike will be on San Diego Comic-Con, that’s scheduled in July. The actors are prohibited from participating in panel discussions where they discuss projects that are covered under these contracts. However, they may still participate in panel discussions where they don’t talk about their current projects. This strike is expected to have an impact on the Emmy Awards too, which are currently set to air in September. Although award shows are covered with a different agreement, actors are still prohibited from promoting those projects for which they are nominated. Before the SAG strike, Fox and the Television Academy, the network airing the awards, are considering whether to hold the ceremony later in the year.