Screen Producers Australia, MEAA, reach performers rights deal

The new agreement comes into effect for new programs from 12 July 2016

Screen Producers Australia (SPA) and the union representing Australian performers (Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance or MEAA) have reached agreement on a new deal for performers rights that allows broadcasters to maximise the popularity of Australian TV drama, in an environment where access to foreign programs has increased markedly.

Under the new Actors Television Repeats and Residuals Agreement (ATRRA), broadcasters will have more flexibility to schedule and promote Australian programs than ever before.

“Performers clearly needed increased fees for increased rights” – Matthew Deaner, SPA’s CEO

The MEAA explained the immediate pay-off for performers will include a new 10% loading on top of their basic negotiated fee whenever their work is played on free streaming services like iview, and a 70% loading for the premiere release of their work on subscription video on demand platforms such as Netflix and Presto, bringing internet TV into line with broadcast TV.

The new agreement comes into effect for new programs from 12 July 2016, although existing programs (including subsequent seasons) remain on the old ATRRA unless otherwise agreed to allow for a transition period.

And for the first time, performers will be paid for appearing in web productions with a 57.5% upfront loading and a 10% share of any revenue generated.

Previous ATRRA agreements placed restrictions on the number of times an Australian program could be played or streamed. This meant that foreign programs, purchased without the same restrictions, could be scheduled and streamed many more times than local programs.

Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner (pictured) said, “This is a groundbreaking agreement that will unlock the potential that digital technology offers for the benefit of the Australian production industry, Australian broadcasters, and to the Australian viewer.

“The impetus for change is that technology has transformed the available content distribution platforms and audience behaviour while the original agreement itself has remained substantially unchanged since 1982.”

“We approached negotiations with the view that there should be something in it for each of the major stakeholders. Performers clearly needed increased fees for increased rights. Networks and investors needed greater flexibility to stream and play programs across multiple platforms to drive up audiences for Australian programs and increase recoupment from their considerable investment. Producers needed the opportunity to derive greater value from their intellectual property by opening up the possibility that programs could be re-licensed,” said Deaner.

Almost no adult Australian TV drama programs have been re-licensed to television after the initial license period has expired due to the length of the license period eroding value in the program and because the repeat fees payable to performers under the old ATRRA were far greater than the market could afford to pay.

The new ATRRA agreement becomes effective as of 12 July, 2016.  Screen Producers Australia will announce a series of workshops for members to introduce the operational aspects of the new ATRRA agreement, as part of an upcoming national roadshow.

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