Today, SAG-AFTRA and the Joint Policy Commission on Broadcast Talent Union Relations (JPC) issued a joint statement announcing that they have decided to offer a waiver for commercial digital low budget productions. The waiver applies only to new low budget digital (e.g. Internet and new media platforms) commercial productions with budgets of $50,000 and under (this amount excludes non-talent related post-production costs). This waiver expires with the expiration of the 2016 SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract on March 31, 2019. Any digital commercial with a budget over $50,000 is still covered by the existing terms and conditions of the Commercial Contract and paid at not less than the minimums set under the Internet or new media provisions.

The Talent or his/her representative must be notified at the time of audition if the Producer intends to utilize the waiver. Further, while SAG-AFTRA agrees to waive the Tart-Harley fine, the Producer is still required to submit the Tart-Harley form for these kinds of productions.

The maximum period of use for work performed under this waiver is one year from the date of the session. The Producer must negotiate with Talent for any use past this period. That said, if a commercial appears on a social media site after expiration of this period but is not relevant to any current campaign and remains in the feed tied to its original posting date, no further payment will be required provided that the Producer complies with SAG-AFTRA’s request to remove the commercial from the social media site, to the extent such a request is made.

Under the waiver, no exclusivity may be required of the Talent, nor can the Talent perform stunts or hazardous work. Further, the principal session fee, extra session fee, principal use fee, and edits are all negotiable, but the pension and health contribution is set at 18%.

Except as modified in the waiver, all other terms and conditions of the 2016 SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract apply. Any commercial produced under the waiver and used in any other media covered by a SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreement requires full use fees for that medium. Further, consent of any principal performers appearing in the commercial as used in television is required prior to any television use.

The joint statement acknowledges that a waiver of this scope is rare, but that its creation was necessary mid-contract to offer “relief to ad agencies that are losing clients to non-signatory ad agencies on digital work.”

TIP: SAG/AFTRA signatories/authorizers may now produce commercials for Internet and new media platforms without having to pay talent fees for union talent and without having to use union talent if the production is $50K or under.