Committee predicts subsidies victory

Film & TV optimistic about Canada production

Leaders of the Film & Television Action Committee have predicted they’ll prevail within the next two years in their push for eliminating Canadian film production subsidies.

The upbeat forecast was issued at a news conference at SAG headquarters Wednesday, a day after FTAC filed its petition for a formal investigation with the U.S. Trade Representative into the legality of the subsidies. The trade rep has 45 days to make that determination, which would trigger negotiations with Canada and possible intervention by the World Trade Organization.

Canadian officials have long conteded that their production subsidies are legal.

The 3,447-page document asserts that Canadian subsidies have resulted in an average annual loss of 46,200 below-the-line jobs in the United States with $9.35 billion in losses to the U.S. economy. FTAC co-exec director Gene Warren Jr. estimated Wednesday that the process of investigation and negotiations with Canada will take between 10 and 14 months.

Warren and fellow exec directors Tim McHugh and Earl Brendlinger also asserted that their optimism for a favorable outlook stems from initial reactions from federal officials and the ongoing involvement of law firm Stewart and Stewart in the case since 2002. Brendlinger pointed out that that the firm’s at the top tier of lawyers who interpret trade laws.

“Stewart and Stewart has done a lot more work than they’ve billed us for,” McHugh added.

The FTAC leaders have raised about $350,000 for the case and predicted that they’ll need another $250,000 by the time it’s completed. Propmakers Local 44 of IATSE is the top contributors so far with $150,000, followed by Teamsters Local 399 with $100,000 and SAG with $50,000.

Other members of the Hollywood establishment — such as the MPAA and DGA — have criticized FTAC in the past by suggesting that the strategies could lead to a trade war. McHugh brushed off that criticism, asserting that it originates from producers who benefit from the Canadian subsidies.

FTAC leaders also said they’re urging supporters to contact elected officials and the trade rep’s office during the next month to urge that the investigation go forward. “Another reason to keep work here is that Hollywood is where the best talent is,” added Teamsters rep Steve Dayan.

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