Film Workers Urge U.S. Action on Foreign Subsidies
Wed Jun 30, 1:34 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. cinematographers and other film industry workers have asked the Bush administration to take action against Canadian, Australian and other government filmmaking subsidies that they say have lured away tens of thousands of jobs.  

"We have been harmed by runaway production of films, videos and television shows that are being made in foreign countries because of ... unfair trade practices," the Film and Television Action (news - web sites) Committee said in comments filed this week with the Commerce Department (news - web sites)'s Unfair Trade Practices Task Force.

The Bush administration created the new task force as part of an initiative aimed at helping the U.S. manufacturing sector, which has lost nearly 3 million jobs since 2000. The panel is supposed to actively root out "unfair" foreign trade practices to keep jobs in the United States.

"We are asking that the Unfair Trade Practices Task Force address these
(foreign film) subsidies as one of its first priorities," FTAC said. "The elaborate subsidy programs of Canada and other countries constitute extensive unfair trade practices that have damaged domestic interests in the amount of billions of dollars."

FTAC is supported by the Screen Actors Guild (news - web sites), various technical film workers unions and "tens of thousands of rank and file entertainment workers" according to its Web site. Unions representing cinematographers and other theatrical workers also asked separately for the Bush administration to crack down on "runaway" film production.

The groups charged the Canadian federal and provincial governments with offering a wide array of subsidies to encourage film and television production in Canada. They also accused Australia of offering "lavish" tax breaks and other incentives to entice movie production.

The success of those countries has encouraged many European countries, as well as Brazil, Iceland, New Zealand and South Africa, to offer similar incentives, FTAC said.

The Unfair Trade Practices Task Forces also heard from an assortment of other U.S. industries -- ranging from potatoes to steel -- demanding action. Many of those complaints were directed at China, which ran a record $124 billion trade surplus with the United States in 2003

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