TV, Film Studios Ask for a Break

With the economy in the toilet and the state swimming in debt, folks from the world of television and movies are seeking to extend tax credits that make filming in New York more affordable.

The state enacted a 10-percent tax credit in 2004 and bumped it up to 30 percent in 2008. But the credits, $460 million worth that were expected to last until 2013, ran out last month, reports Reuters.

It's taken studios no time at all to respond to the shift in the economic climate. Warner Bros. already has moved production of its hit show "Fringe" from Silver Cup Studios in Queens to Vancouver -- taking with it more than 100 jobs -- and the number of pilots slated to be shot here has plummeted from 19 in 2008 to zero (0) for this year.

"These incentives are not charity," said Mary Rae Thewlis, a member of the Directors Guild of America, during a press conference on the set of "Life on Mars." "They generate revenue at a time when the government is in desperate need of money."

Thewlis also pointed out that 40 U.S. states currently offer production tax credits of 5 percent to 30 percent.

Bean counters at Ernst & Young have estimated that from 2005 to 2010 TV and film production would create $2.7 billion in tax revenues versus $690 million in tax credits over the same period. It also noted that in 2007 the credits helped create 7,000 directly and another 12,000 indirectly.

The film production tax credits are "the single best marketing tool that the New York production industry has ever had outside of the city itself and the state itself," Hal Rosenbluth, President of Kaufman Astoria Studios, told the Queens Courier.

Alan Suna, CEO of Silver Cup Studios, also home to "30 Rock,"  "Gossip Girl" and "In Treatment," is worried, as well.

Silver Cup is "working with all interested stakeholders to keep this successful job creating program going," he told the Courier.

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