DGA’s Cates: Healthcare Big Priority; New Media? Not as Much

Guild’s negotiating committee chairman says new health plan will be focus of upcoming AMPTP negotiations; digital media not spinning off enough money at this point to worry about

The DGA will seek the first major healthcare overhaul to its collective-bargaining agreement when negotiations with producers start later this year.

Meanwhile, the issue of digital media — a lightning rod during the last round of major-contract negotiations — will be back-burnered, at least for this round.

So said Gil Cates, the Directors Guild of America's negotiating committee chairman, while being Q&A'd in the guild's monthly newsletter.

"With costs going up but contributions remaining flat, it's clear that eventually, something will have to give," Cates said. "Either contributions will have to grow via increased support from the employers, or costs will have to be reduced — which means either increasing co-pays and deductibles, or cutting back on coverage."

Meanwhile, on the issue of new media, Cates said that the DGA's membership base just isn't recouping enough revenue on it right now for it to be a negotiating priority.

"Because it so clearly plays a significant role in the future of our industry, it's a major focus of our research and something that we're watching closely," Cates said. "At the same time, however, it's important to recognize that the vast majority of our members' earnings still come from traditional media."

The DGA is tentatively scheduled to begin negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in mid-November on the guild's Basic Agreement and its Freelance Live and Tape Television Agreement.

That timeline could change, however, pending the outcome of joint negotiations by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists with the AMPTP for a new broadcast television deal. Those talks start next week.