The 7 Year TV Itch

Dear Colleagues,

This past week Rank and File Representative Neil Stubenhaus and I attended the first round of negotiations between the American Federation of Musicians and representatives of ABC, CBS and NBC. The Television Videotape Agreement has languished for seven years without negotiated successor agreement.

As a result, wages and health care contributions have been frozen, providing a substantial financial windfall for the networks. This windfall is all the more striking because the very shows that musicians participate on – Dancing With the Stars, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, American Idol and many more, are some of the most lucrative shows on TV.

AFM President Ray Hair stated that “We made a complete, comprehensive proposal this week in an effort to engage the networks in a constructive discussion, one that has been long overdue, about the issues that concern musicians who work in some of the most popular shows on television. Unfortunately, instead of a progressive attitude, we were met with demands for unjustified concessions that have upset our musicians.”

And Rank and File Representative from the Los Angeles Videotape Committee Jason Poss added “Musicians on Leno, Idol, Dancing With the Stars, SNL, etc, haven’t had a raise (or a proper agreement) in 7 years! I had to sit across the table from network execs and listen to them say that unlike everybody else who works on those shows, musicians don’t deserve a raise.”

Between the late night shows like Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and the Tonight Show, the variety shows like American Idol and Dancing With the Stars, the awards shows such as the Academy Awards, the Emmys and Tonys, and the morning and other news shows including Good Morning America and the Today Show, many hundreds of AFM musicians are employed under the Television Videotape Agreement. Each of them, whether they are a regular on a show, play annually on awards shows, or tour with artists that appear on shows, deserve fair and appropriate compensation and benefits for their musical contribution to the success of those shows.

Stay tuned – more information coming your way.

Marc Sazer
President, RMA