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| 1 minute read

SAG-AFTRA Low Budget Waiver Updated and Amended

Those who continue to struggle with the cost of using SAG-AFTRA talent to develop social media and other digital commercial content have found value over the years in the SAG-AFTRA Low Budget Digital Waiver, which was first implemented in 2017 and is intended to allow a commercial producer to produce certain content intended to be broadcast in traditional digital channels (social, YouTube, but not streaming platforms like Hulu and Netflix) using talent rates lower than the traditionally required minimums.  

Recently, the Low Budget Digital Waiver was updated and amended.  The amended waiver is effective June 27, 2024, and all terms and conditions of the current waiver are extended from April 1, 2024, through June 26, 2024.  The waiver sunsets on March 31, 2025, which is the same time that a new SAG-AFTRA commercials contract will be negotiated.  The changes are notable and as outlined below, some are good for producers, others not as much.   

Under the amended waiver, it remains that a producer can freely bargain with talent for use and edit fees, including even negotiating for no payment. However, under the updated waiver, SAG-AFTRA minimum required scale session fees must be paid, regardless of what the producer and talent agree upon regarding the remainder of the compensation.  So, no more complete freebies on talent when using the waiver.

They have eliminated the requirement to submit an attestation of the budget to the Union prior to the shoot, which provides relief to producers from an administrative standpoint.

The producer also benefits from new terms relating to the length of usage of the digital content.  The Maximum Period of Use now starts on the later of the date of first use of the content produced or 13 weeks after the last production date, whichever is earlier. This benefits producers, giving them a bit more time than under the prior waiver, where the Maximum Period of Use was one year from the date of the talent’s session.  

Finally, low budget, digital productions must be shot on a different day than any connected full-budget commercial production could ultimately cut into the overall benefit of the waiver.

The other elements of the wavier generally remain the same, most notably (a) that “low budget” is defined as $100,000 maximum per production day, which includes the session fee(s)but excludes use fees, edit fees and non-talent related post-production costs, (b) that the waiver is available only to advertiser and advertising agency signatories (and not those who engage third-party signatories), and (c) the wavier is not available for celebrity talent.






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