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Movie-Making Becoming a Subsidy Magnet

Politicians seem to love the movie business, or so I infer from the rash of proposals of late to subsidize the movie business. 

New York City seems to have been first out of the blocks, with this program to provide tax rebates and free advertising for shooting movies in NYC.  The article tells us this is the only industry being so targeted at this point by NY.  Why?  Why are movie jobs and movie makers somehow better than every other kind?  Maybe its because they think the movies provide good advertising for NYC, like the great light they cast on the city in movies like this and this.

Anyway, the trend got my attention when our own Arizona governor lamented that Arizona is no longer home to as many movie shoots as it once was decades ago.  Far be it for me to suggest that this is probably more of an issue of westerns going in and out of style (since about a majority of movies shot in Arizona were westerns).  Nevertheless, Napolitano is pushing ahead with her plan to improve the net income line of Hollywood studios by subsidizing production in Arizona.

Finally, via Reason, we see that Hollywood is worried that it is being left out of the subsidy competition, by actually paying companies to film in LA:

Mayor James K. Hahn on Thursday announced a plan he hopes will keep Hollywood in Hollywood — by paying film production companies to shoot in Los Angeles.

Hahn's proposal, which was inspired by a program that New York City adopted in December, would use as much as $15 million in public funds to reimburse companies that make a movie in Los Angeles, paying them 5% of their production costs or up to $625,000.

OK, so one would think that all these locations have struggling media and production industries.  But in fact, just the opposite is true.  In New York:

But Wylde thinks film is just the tip of the iceberg. The city's entire media sector is growing explosively, she notes. From Time Warner to Hearst to Bloomberg LLP, media firms account for $13 billion in city wages, 50% more than tourism.

And, in LA:

Last year, however, film, video and television production in Los Angeles actually reached record highs. Entertainment Industry Development Corp. issued permits for 52,707 location production days — one day representing a single day of work on a single project — a 19% increase over 2003.

Doesn't sound like they are in much trouble.  Their film and media businesses are already growing explosively to record highs.  So why do they need a subsidy?  Doesn't exactly sound like the New England textile business.

Look, at the end of the day, this is about politicians handing taxpayer money to powerful media people, people who have the ability to disproportionately influence public opinions and things like ... elections!  This is a barely disguised campaign expenditure, except for the fact that taxpayers pay the bill.

I wrote more about the idiocy of subsidizing corporate relocations to one's state or city here.

Update:  Match Welch has more

Posted on April 14, 2005 at 09:37 AM | Permalink

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