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New York Legislators Approve Groundbreaking TV Diversity Tax Credit

Variety logo Variety 6/22/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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New York’s state Assembly and Senate have passed a bill backed by the DGA and WGA East that would create a tax incentive program for TV shows that hire women and people of color in top writing and directing positions.

The bill will now head to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign. Cuomo has been a strong supporter of New York’s entertainment community and tax incentive programs to grow the volume of production in the Empire State. The next big hurdle will be getting $5 million set aside in the state’s budget to fund the credit.

WGA East and DGA leaders hailed state Senator Marisol Alcantara and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo for guiding the bill through their respective chambers. The bill is the first of its kind in the nation in linking a tax incentive to a diversity hiring program.

“People in the TV industry have understood for years that enhancing the diversity of writing and directing improves the stories that appear on screen,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “The missing link for policymakers has been putting money at the point of hire, and this legislation is an important step in that direction.”

Neil Dudich, Eastern exec director of the DGA, said the bill was an effort to address the persistence of “imbalanced hiring practices” in TV. Despite the enormous growth of series in production, DGA and WGA stats still show a relatively low rate of participation in high-level TV production jobs by women and minorities.

“By encouraging studios, networks and producers to discover the talented New York TV directors and writers that are out there in abundance, this bill can be a meaningful step forward in establishing a level playing field for all,” Dudich said.

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