Musicians To March Musically In Manhattan For Fair Live-TV Contract

Musicians will march musically and rally in Manhattan next week to demand a fair contract for the house bands that perform on live network TV shows. The American Federation of Musicians said Monday’s protest is a call for the networks to return to the bargaining table “to create true pay parity and dismantle the structural racism that runs rampant in the television industry.”

The rally will start at the Ed Sullivan Theater, and musicians will then march while playing instruments to 30 Rockefeller Plaza before heading over to ABC’s Times Square Studios.

The union says the main issue in its stalled contract talks with ABC, CBS and NBC is “economic parity” with unions representing actors, writers and directors. The 80,000-member AFM says that it hasn’t been able to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with the networks since 2016 for the house bands working on the late-night talk shows, along with Saturday Night Live, Dancing with the Stars and The Voice.

“As more television shows move to streaming platforms like Disney+, CBS All Access and Peacock, the studios are refusing to provide musicians with fair compensation,” the AFM said. “While streaming residuals are granted to actors, singers, writers and others in the industry, major TV networks are excluding musicians from their fair share and significantly lowering musicians’ overall pay.”

A letter signed by dozens of musicians employed on live TV shows claims that “systemic racism” is to blame for the lack of “economic parity” with actors, writers and directors in the area of wages, health care contributions and residuals payments on streaming platforms.

“Your companies acknowledged that live television musicians are the only sector of the industry exhibiting substantial racial diversity,” the letter said, “but at the bargaining table we are told that our contributions are worth less than those of actors, writers, and directors, even though we give just as much. You cannot ignore that the other guilds are predominately white and are compensated at a higher rate with residual payments for streamed content, health care, and wages.”

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