New York Gov Andrew Cuomo Signs Landmark TV Diversity Bill

State will allocate $5 million in tax credits to incentivize the hiring of women and people of color

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the state’s Television Diversity Tax Credit Bill into law on Thursday.

The bill will support a study of the disparity between the availability of women and people of color to write and direct TV in New York and the actual hiring rates, after which the state will allocate $5 million from the Empire State Film Production Tax Credit to incentivize the hiring of women and people of color to write and direct television in New York.

Qualifying projects would be eligible for up to 30% of the qualifying salaries and fees paid for hiring a minority or woman television writer or director who works or resides in New York. The credit is capped at $150,000 in salaries or fees per person, and $50,000 for such fees or salaries for work done for a single episode of television.

“The bill would create a tax credit for qualified production companies that employee women and minority writers and directors who work on television programs by allowing a new refundable tax credit for television writers’ and directors’ fees and salary costs. The bill advances a laudable goal and builds on the success of New York’s Film Tax Credit,” Cuomo wrote in his approval memorandum. “In order to comply with constitutional mandates related to a set aside such as this, I have secured an agreement with the legislature to conduct a study to first demonstrate the underutilization of minority and women directors and screenwriters who will benefit from this bill. The legislature has also agreed to require a minimum number of days of work be undertaken in New York, and restrictions on the amount of compensation eligible for the credit, since for the first time, this bill allows “above the line” costs to be included for this credit. Based on this agreement, I am signing this bill. This bill is approved.”

The bill passed over the summer with bipartisan support in the State Senate and Assembly. It was championed by both the Writers Guild of America East and Director’s Guild. More than 400 TV and film writers, including John Oliver, Amy Schumer, Samantha Bee and Ilana Glazer came out in support of the bill.

“We make history in New York. We thank Senator Robert Jackson and Assembly member Marcos Crespo, the lead sponsors of the legislation, and the honorable Governor Andrew Cuomo, for signing the bill into law. This bill enjoyed the unwavering support of thousands of writers and activists who made visits and phone calls to Albany, sent emails and shared tweets,” Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East, said. “Television starts with storytelling, and our members made clear that this legislation was necessary to make television more inclusive and more reflective of the lives of the people who live here and who comprise the audience for the shows that are made here. This bill will strengthen the entertainment industry in New York and, most importantly, build a critical mass of diverse talent that ensures our industry continues to be an engine of growth and employment for years to come.”