City mulls anti-runaway penalty
Santa Monica to vote on film subsidy measure
Daily Variety  May 8, 2002

The city of Santa Monica will consider passing a resolution in support of the controversial move to impose penalties on producers who accept Canadian subsidies.  

The measure has been placed on the agenda for Tuesday's City Council meeting by Mayor Pro Tem Kevin McKeown in order to express concern over the impact of runaway production on Santa Monica, a suburb that's home to a wide array of Hollywood employees. The Film & Television Action Committee plans to seek similar action from other municipalities. 

The resolution asks the council to adopt a resolution supporting Santa Monica film and television workers and businesses "whose livelihoods are being siphoned off to Canada by unfair subsidy practices." It also asks for federal trade remedies and relief.  

"I'm a 30-year entertainment union member and know what film and TV workers mean to Santa Monica," McKeown said. "If their jobs go north, our economy goes south."  

The initiative -- backed by SAG's national board and 12,000 petition signers as a means of stopping runaway production -- was delayed four months ago after FTAC withdrew the document in order to provide detailed info about the entertainment industry. FTAC still plans to refile the petition.  

Opinions divided  

Key Hollywood unions have split on the issue, with leaders of the Directors Guild of America, IATSE and AFTRA opposing it on grounds that the initiative is counterproductive and hurts efforts to pass wage-based tax credit legislation. 

The petition seeks a federal investigation by the Dept. of Commerce and the Intl. Trade Commission into the legality of Canadian subsidies. Should the feds find in favor of the petition, producers could be required to pay tariffs equal to the subsidy as a condition of releasing the film or TV show in the U.S. -- a step opponents say could lead to a trade war.  

In another development, Texas-based IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 484 announced it had officially endorsed the FTAC campaign. The local reps about
500 craft workers.

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