News Detail

23.10.2019

The FIA Executive Committee meeting: much more than just business as usual!

The annual meeting of the FIA Executive Committee took place in Vancouver, Canada, on October 1 and 2, 2019. The meeting was, as always, an opportunity to address statutory business but also to look further into how SVOD is changing the industry and challenging traditional business models, compelling unions to look for innovative mechanisms to monetize the work of their members in this new environment. Netflix, Apple, Amazon and a few other conglomerates are wildly competing for a large audience with a craving for films and TV series they can watch anywhere, anytime and for a monthly fee. As traditional studios are also developing OTT services to make available their huge catalogues directly to subscribers and behind walled gardens, Silicon Valley is aggressively moving into original content, in the hope that – when third party content licensing agreements no longer apply – they will have enough original and exclusive programs to stay on top of their game. With no theatrical release or syndication, one of the main challenges is to figure out how to barter a traditional residual or royalty-based system for one that seeks to pay a steep premium upfront, in the best case, and promises no backend.

In the current SVOD environment, things may not fundamentally change for a performer if 10 people or 10 million people watch a show or a movie. And yet, the challenge is precisely to find how to make that matter and translate in more meaningful earnings as opposed to yielding to a buy-out enticement.

FIA affiliates shared strategic information about new payment structures, exclusivity clauses and also the prevention of sexual harassment in the streaming business. Comparing successful union strategies empowers our members to keep to high standards and resist the pressure to conform to new "industry" norms driven by these corporate giants, which can be a rather daunting experience when a performer union does not have alternative terms of use to uphold. Other matters of concern in SVOD productions, including health and safety, gender and diversity or the funding of local content were also largely discussed, with the understanding that best practices in dealing with OTT platforms will ultimately benefit every FIA affiliate and help build a minimum floor of rights for performers internationally. The FIA Executive Committee also made progress in defining a global union strategy to address multinational corporations producing original content around the world and applying double standards where local talent does not get the benefit of a strong union representation.

The role of trade unions in upholding public funding for the arts as well as their response to unconventional work ops for performers to boost their revenue was also the subject of much discussion. Several delegates reported alarming endeavours to meddle politics with funding, especially at local level, and curtail freedom of artistic expression to serve the most dogmatic and radical party politics. Other topical issues revolved around the hiring of professional work on a voluntary basis at major international sport events, something about which FIA will in the future seek the strategic support of professional players, and the role of FIA and its affiliates in promoting a greener industry.

The FIA Executive Committee unanimously approved a new voting system intended to drive additional balance into its decision-making process and address a few incoherencies that have gradually become apparent since this subject matter was last addressed. With a fresh new structure for allocating voting rights at Congress, subject to the final endorsement by its global membership in 2020, FIA will be better equipped to voice the professional concerns of performers worldwide and represent their legitimate interests.

The FIA Executive Committee also expressed its sincere solidarity to workers in the hospitality industry, represented by UNITE HERE! Local 40, engaged in a difficult industrial action in Vancouver over a long awaited new contract addressing workload, safety and job security. Two further resolutions were passed by acclamation in support of the right to organise of content creators employed by public station WHYY in Philadelphia, USA, and against draft legislative reforms in Brazil threatening to undermine the professional status of artists and technicians.

 

- EC Vancouver Resolution 1: JOB ACTION BY UNITE HERE! Local 40

- EC Vancouver Resolution 2: SUPPORTING THE SAG-AFTRA ORGANIZING EFFORTS OF BROADCASTERS AT WHYY PHILADELPHIA USA

- EC Vancouver Resolution 3: UPHOLDING THE PROFESSIONAL STATUS OF PERFORMERS AND TECHNICIANS IN BRAZIL