Contact: Gregg Mitchell (323) 782-4574
 
News Release: February 25, 2008
New Bill Takes Aim At Hollywood Accounting

California State Senator Sheila Kuehl Introduces Bill to End the Practice of Selling Television Series and Films for Less Than Fair Market Value

LOS ANGELES, SACRAMENTO -- California State Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) has introduced Senate Bill 1765, the "Fair Market Value Bill," to end the practice by some major studios and networks of “underselling” television series or movies.

Since the major media networks in the United States have come to own many cable channels, the practice of selling TV series or movies for less than the fair market value of the content has become more and more prevalent. In many cases, the product is sold or licensed from one entity to another entity within the same parent company. This creates a problem for actors, writers, and performers who rely on the amount of a sale of material for their residuals - payments made to the creators or performers of a work for showings or screenings after an initial use. Other union members in the entertainment industry, including the Teamsters, also rely on the amount of a sale price to determine contributions to their health and pension funds.

"As a SAG member I care deeply that creative talent is treated fairly and that all workers in the entertainment industry receive the compensation they deserve," said State Senator Sheila Kuehl (D- Los Angeles). "Many of my constituents work within the entertainment industry, and I have recently heard more and more about the growing practice of selling entertainment content, such as television series or films, for less than their fair market value. This practice has a deeply detrimental effect on the amount of compensation for creative talent like writers and actors. But the damage goes further because so-called below-the-line staff, like the Teamsters, rely on the proceeds from such a sale of content to fund their health and pension plans. This bill simply ensures that workers in the entertainment industry have the protection they need."

"The WGA West wholeheartedly supports this bill and we applaud Senator Kuehl for authoring it," said Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West. "This important piece of legislation will help ensure reliable accounting among the major Hollywood studios so that creative talent and all entertainment employees that rely on residuals will be fairly compensated for the contributions they make to the industry. The WGA is excited about the bill, and we look forward to involving our members in the process of educating elected leaders about the need for it."

In the last few years, there have been many high profile court cases on this issue. Creative talent from TV series, such as The X-Files, Will & Grace, and Home Improvement, among others, have filed suit to prevent the practice of selling television programs from one network to another for less than fair market value.

The bill is coauthored by State Senators Darrell Steinberg and Carole Migden and Assembly Members Fiona Ma and Sandre Swanson. The bill is supported by International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Writers Guild of America, West. Each union represents workers in the entertainment industry, and each union negotiates for compensation derived from the sale of television programs and films.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) represents writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable, and new media industries in both entertainment and news. For more information, please visit: www.wga.org.