TV, Movie Industry Hails Signing of Calif. Production Credit

Studios and unions Thursday were celebrating Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of The California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act, a bill to try to stem the flood of production from the state to cheaper venues, including north of the border.

"We look forward to California becoming a viable option for film and television production once more, and our members look forward to being able to work and be with their families at the same time. Simply put, we are elated,” said the California Film and Television Production Alliance in a statement.

Last month, Brown helped strike a deal on legislation (AB 1839), which expands and increases California's TV and film production tax credit.

The current program allows the California Film Commission to hand out up to $100 million in tax credits a year to some California productions, with a lottery used to award the credit. The new credit will be up to $330 million a year for the next five years and does away with the lottery, instead ranking companies according to net jobs created and economic impact.

Motion Picture Association of America chairman Chris Dodd had suggested the legislation is vital to the state's survival as a production center.

The coalition includes MPAA, as well as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, SAG-AFTRA, WGAW, and the veritable host of others. 

According to the offices of Assemblymembers Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), who introduced the legislation back in January, the specifics of the compromise bill are:

1. "Extends the program for five additional years;
2. "Lifts the per-film budget cap so that all big-ticket films may apply, but only qualified expenditures of up to $100 million will be eligible for credit;
3. "Lifts the per-film cap so that all independent films may apply, but only qualified expenditures of up to $10 million will be eligible for the credit;
4. "Allows all, new, one-hour television series, regardless of where they air, to be eligible to apply for the program;
5. "Stimulates TV series production by allowing pilots shows to apply for the credit;
6. "Creates certainty by guaranteeing that a returning or renewed television series, or a new television series picked up from a pilot made in California have priority in one credit allocation each fiscal year;
7. "Offers a 5% increase in the tax credit for filming outside of the Los Angeles Zone;
8. 'Offers a 25% credit for television shows that relocate to California within the first year of production;
9. "Offers an additional 5% increase in the tax credit for costs related to music scoring and music-track recording;
10. "Offers a 25% tax credit to films in the program that spend $10 million in California or commit 75% of qualified expenditures related to visual effects in California;
11. 'Ensures that more jobs are created in California by modifying the requirement that 75% of the production days occur in California to 75% of the principal-photography jobs occur in California;
12."Makes the new incentive program effective immediately."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.