Bloomberg unveils NYC media plan

Initiatives designed to expand presence of new media

NEW YORK -- Amid the recession and slowing growth in traditional media, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ensure that the Big Apple remains one of the world's big media capitals and allow the sector to be a driver of economic growth.

He unveiled Tuesday eight initiatives to expand the presence of new media and its innovation, create about 8,000 sector jobs during the next decade, train executives and attract the next generation of successful media companies, including those based abroad.

The programs are part of a broad plan to diversify the city's economy and draw on the results of Media NYC 2020, an initiative launched this year to bring together industry and city leaders to develop a media strategy.

Bloomberg revealed the plans at the headquarters of Barry Diller's Internet firm, IAC, alongside deputy mayor for economic development Robert Lieber, New York City Economic Development Corp. president Seth Pinsky and other leaders of city agencies and media businesses.

"New York City is the media capital of the world, but with the industry undergoing profound changes, it's incumbent on us to take steps now to capitalize on growth opportunities and ensure we remain an industry leader," Bloomberg said.

New York's media industry employs more than 300,000, nearly 10% of the city's private work force, and accounts for $30 billion in annual revenue, according to city data. Small to medium-sized companies with fewer than 500 employees account for nearly half of the sector's employment. New York-based media firms account for about half of U.S. revenue in magazines, books and broadcast television and a quarter of newspaper and cable TV revenue, according to the city.

But traditional media businesses are slowing, with only 1% annual growth projected through 2015. On the other hand, mobile entertainment, Internet gaming, social networking and user-generated content could grow by more than 35% each, the city said.

"Diversifying our economy is a critical part of our Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan," Lieber said. "We are targeting sectors where New York City has competitive advantages, and the media industry represents one of our best opportunities."

Among the initiatives:

-- NYC Media Lab, a research center connecting media companies with universities, will create a forum for innovation similar to initiatives at Stanford University and MIT.

-- The city has created the tax-exempt Media Tech Bond Program to help companies purchase facilities or expand their IT infrastructure.

-- A Media and Tech Fellowship will be awarded annually to about 20 "rising star" media and technology entrepreneurs. Fellows will be provided with training, mentoring, support services and networking opportunities with venture-capital firms.

-- The city is partnering with the Downtown Alliance to launch a center for media freelancers at 55 Broad St., in Lower Manhattan, to address a lack of affordable workspace and the prohibitive cost of specialized equipment for such emerging subsectors as gaming and social networking.

-- The city is launching JumpStart New Media, a training program to assist displaced or entrepreneurial junior to midlevel employees in exploring opportunities in new and digital media.