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Supporting diversity in television could soon be rewarded in New York. A landmark TV diversity bill supported by the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and the Directors Guild of America has hit New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk to be signed into law.
The bill would provide a tax incentive for hiring women and people of color to write and direct television in the state. The legislation, which borrows from existing state law that addresses historic inequities in other parts of the state economy, is the first of its kind in the country. It passed both the Assembly and the Senate earlier this year. The Governor has until midnight on December 18 to approve or veto the bill.
“Everyone acknowledges the profound lack of diversity in the television industry. There is no one saying, ‘Oh, no, things are fine; no need to take action’. Women and people of color are radically underrepresented as writers and directors of television, and Governor Cuomo can make history by signing the first piece of legislation that would take concrete action to tackle this long-standing problem,” said WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson. “If we want the television industry to remain healthy, to keep offering great jobs to tens of thousands of New Yorkers, the State must take action now.”
“Talent should be the defining factor in hiring. This is an issue the DGA has sought to address with employers for years as we’ve pushed them to change their imbalanced hiring practices,” added Neil Dudich, eastern executive director of the Directors Guild of America. “By encouraging studios, networks and producers to discover the talented New York TV directors and writers that are out there in abundance, this bill can be a meaningful step forward in establishing a level playing field for all.”
The yearslong campaign to get a TV diversity bill to the Governor’s desk has been supported by prominent television writers, directors, producers and filmmakers such as Tina Fey, Sarah Treem, David Simon and Beau Willimon, among others.
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