SAG-AFTRA strike bans Hollywood actors from appearing on podcasts to promote work

Union members officially join the WGA to strike against TV and film companies

Hollywood actors and performers have been barred from appearing on podcasts to promote any of their TV or film work - past or present - under the rules of a new union strike

Members of SAG-AFTRA - the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists - joined the WGA on Thursday at midnight to strike against AMPTP - the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers - after both companies failed to reach an agreement when the deadline to secure a new contract passed on Wednesday. 

As well as working on productions for the companies that make up AMPTP, the strike rules also forbid promoting any prior or forthcoming work undertaken for them. This includes making appearances on official companion podcasts produced by the TV and film companies.

Members can, however, still host or guest-star on podcasts covered by the SAG-AFTRA Podcast Agreement which includes podcasts that are independent and podcasts that are micro-monetised (less than $10,000 in budget and/or earnings for one season) but are not allowed to promote struck work under any circumstances. In addition to not being able to make podcast appearances or promote any of their covered work on any other platforms, members of SAG-AFTRA are also not allowed to undertake voice-over work under TV or film contracts.

The SAG-AFTRA union covers approximately 160,000 actors, broadcast journalists, announcers, hosts, stunt performers, and other media professionals. As part of the strike rules, non-members are warned that if they perform covered services for struck companies during the strike period, they will not be admitted as members into SAG-AFTRA in the future.

Journalists and reviewers, including podcasters, who are not members of the union can still review struck work and won’t risk being barred from membership in the future, but should not accept any paid work during the strike, such as sponsorships by studios to promote screenings and content. They’re also encouraged to add an editorial statement before the coverage to show solidarity with the SAG-AFTRA members that are striking, highlighting that without the labour of striking workers, the piece in question wouldn’t exist.

This marks the first time in 63 years that both SAG-AFTRA and the WGA have gone on strike at the same time. The WGA strike has been ongoing since 2 May with TV, film, and scripted podcast writers joining the picket line. Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA have similar demands from TV and film companies, including higher pay and better working conditions, as well as better protection and guardrails against the advancement of AI. 

“At some point, the jig is up. You cannot keep being dwindled and marginalised and disrespected and dishonoured. The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI. This is a moment of history,” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher during a press conference. “If we don't stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble.”