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WGAE, DGA Urge N.Y.’s Cuomo to Sign Diversity Credit

The Writers Guild of America East (WGAE), the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and Democrats in the New York State Legislature are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a recently passed diversity tax-credit bill.

A WGAE spokesperson said the groups did not see any reason why Cuomo wouldn't sign it, but were going to keep pushing until pen hit paper.

The Television Writers' and Directors' Fees and Salaries Credit would allocate up to $5 million in tax credits for hiring women and minority TV writers and directors. It would go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

“Enhancing diversity in television writers’ rooms is essential, not just as a matter of social justice, but also for the industry's long-term economic health," said WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson. "To continue to prosper and to provide good jobs, the industry must offer shows that capture the attention of increasingly-diverse audiences. What's more, our members tell us that writers’ rooms that include people from a variety of backgrounds, with different experiences and perspectives, create the most compelling stories and television shows. This tax credit legislation will make the industry better and stronger, and will create opportunities for more New Yorkers."

To be eligible for the credit, a production must employ regular working writers (who must report to a writers room) and directors, and those personnel cannot be profit participants in a show.

The credit is capped at $5 million per year, with eligibility determined by date of filing if demand exceeds supply, though eligible applicants thus excluded would be carried forward to the succeeding tax year.

"For many years, the DGA has pushed industry employers to institute open and inclusive hiring practices and to base hiring decisions on talent and talent alone," said Neil Dudich, Eastern executive director for DGA. "This first-of-its-kind bill is a meaningful step forward in establishing a level playing field by incentivizing employers to open their hiring practices and consider the full range of New York's talented TV directors and writers. We thank Senator Alcantara, Assemblymenber Crespo and Senator Klein for their leadership on this bill, and we're hopeful that this pivotal legislation will be signed into law by Governor Cuomo and appropriated in the state budget. New York has taken a leadership position in production, and we look to the state to lead on inclusion."

John Eggerton
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.