Entertainment workers to seek duties on films made in Canada

The Associated Press
Saturday March 30, 2002

WASHINGTON — A group representing entertainment industry workers said it will file a complaint with the federal government seeking duties on Canadian-made productions sent to the United States for editing or distribution. 

The Film and Television Action Committee alleges that Canada unfairly subsidizes TV and film productions through wage-based incentives that can reduce labor expenses by 35 percent. 

The committee, which says it represents 200,000 workers, has been gathering facts and figures about the entertainment industry and signatures from Hollywood workers for the complaint, chairman Brent Swift said. 

The complaint is being prepared for submission to the Commerce Department and U.S. International Trade Commission by William Fennell, a Washington-based lawyer whose firm specializes in trade cases. 

FTAC, which includes production crews, carpenters and other workers, withdrew an initial complaint earlier this year, saying it was improperly drafted. 

“The substance has not changed,” Fennell said. “The issue is the subsidized labor in Canada acting as a draw.” 

Nearly 26 percent of theatrical movies shot in North America and released in 2000 were filmed in Canada, up from 13 percent in 1999, according to a report prepared last year by the Center for Entertainment Industry Data and Research. 

Filming in other countries cost the U.S. economy $2.8 billion in 1998, according to a report prepared for the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America in 1999. 

That figure jumped to $10.3 billion when money that would have been spent at restaurants, hotels and other businesses, and tax revenue that would have been generated, were included, the report said. 

The Motion Picture Association of America, the Directors Guild, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and other unions oppose duties on Canadian-made productions. 

They would rather see the U.S. and state governments match the Canadian tax breaks. California Gov. Gray Davis and members of Congress have proposed such incentives. 


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