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Wednesday, March 23, 2006

More support for FTAC subsidy probe
By Jesse Hiestand

The Film & Television Action Committee's campaign to launch a federal trade investigation of foreign production subsidies has garnered the support of another Southern California city and is closing in on its goal to raise enough money to fund the probe, FTAC leaders said Wednesday.

The Glendale City Council voted 3-0, with two abstentions, on Tuesday to support FTAC's mission and its call for the filing of a 301(a) petition to force negotiations with counties that allegedly are not complying with U.S. trade agreements, FTAC said.

The volunteer organization, which is opposed by the industry and several Hollywood unions, previously has received support from lawmakers in the Los Angeles-area cities of Burbank, Santa Monica and West Hollywood. A few other U.S. cities and several below-the-line guilds also have expressed their support, as they tend to lose out when film and television projects go to other countries like Canada.

FTAC board member Robert Amico said the group had commitments to cover about half of the estimated $250,000-$300,000 it would cost to file the petition. Amico was hopeful that the petition could be filed as soon as June.

"We think that if we file it in that time there might not even be a challenge back from Canada, and they'll negotiate with the U.S. to modify these subsidies so that they are legal and do not break trade agreements," Amico said.

In the meantime, FTAC officials hope to get the support of other Southern California municipalities, including San Fernando, Long Beach and, ultimately, the city of Los Angeles, Amico said.

SAG is the only above-the-line union to support FTAC's campaign.

FTAC's opponents fear that the investigation will spark a trade war with Canada or other countries that would then retaliate against other U.S. industries.

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The MPAA often argues against the use of a 301 petition... and yet they themselves have used it to protect their own profits. Watch this video of FTAC’s attorney commenting on the MPAA’s use of the 301 petition.
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