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Calif. Tax Credit 'Can't Stop' TV Migration to NY

New York is successfully luring one-hour network TV series away from California and there's not much the state can do about it.

That's because hour-long network series aren't eligible for California's $100-million tax credit. Together New York and California play host to 35 of the some 55 network one-hour series, but the Empire State's share has steadily increased since 2010. 

"We have lost market share everywhere," Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission said Wednesday at a special hearing in Los Angles of the state Assembly committees that oversee the Film and Television Tax Credit Program. "The most dramatic was network. I pointed that out specifically because network is not an eligible type of production in the program."

Lemisch said halting runaway television production -- which is usually more rooted that film -- isn't as easy as tweaking the incentive program.

"How many TV series can we even accommodate in our program where we run out of funds the first day? It's not an effective way to run an economic development program," she said. "We don't have enough in the pot. We're not able to accommodate the demand."

New York has a $420-million annual tax incentive program for the entrainment industry. Lemisch said California didn't need to match that to stay competitive.

"California's program is more modest than, I think, almost every other state that has a program," she said. "It's intentionally designed to be that way. We do not have to match dollar-to-dollar what our competitors are offering.

"We have so many advantages -- the infrastructure and the availability of crew and equipment and all that."

Still, a coalition of business and labor groups are pushing Sacramento to boost funding for tax incentives. State lawmakers are holding a series of satellite hearings around California to generate momentum for a funding increase. 

Displaying a rare alignment of the interests, Rusty Hicks, political director of the L.A. Country Federation of Labor, and Ruben Gonzalez, a vice president at the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, also testified in favor of the incentive program at the hearing, which was hosted by SAG-AFTRA. 

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