Producers, Guilds Ask President Biden To Keep Job-Creating Entertainment Biz Top Of Mind In Policy Agenda; “Our Industry Comprised Of Much More Than Red-Carpet Celebrities”

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Jill Goldsmith
·6 min read
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The Motion Picture Association, DGA, IATSE, IFTA, SAG-AFTRA along with the AFL-CIO’s Department of Professional Employees have penned a letter to President Joe Biden urging the new administration to keep the job-providing, economy-stimulating film and television community in mind when hashing out policy.

As the industry ramps up calls to Washington D.C., the missive dated Feb. 18 and sent to the President this morning, says, “We will depend on the leaders you choose to manage key federal agencies to facilitate the recovery and continued success of the American creative economy, especially at posts within the White House, Justice Department, Commerce Department, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and key enforcement agencies. We hope you will make clear that these appointees will ensure that the federal government prioritizes copyright and the American creative sector when crafting and enforcing policies that affect us.”

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As a whole, the letter said, the industry supports 2.5 million U.S. jobs across a spectrum of skills and trades, help finance 320,000 businesses in cities and small towns across the country and pay over $188 billion in wages annually, the group of producers and guilds noted.

The letter follows one Friday by an overlapping coalition directed at Senate leaders asking specifically for pandemic insurance relief, lack of which has resulted in the loss of hundreds of productions.

The letter today said the pandemic has put roughly 465,000 film and television jobs in the U.S. at risk, and that online piracy has spiked. Despite extensive protocols that have allowed filming to resume safely, production will not, however, return to normal levels until the country gets on top of the COVID crisis.

“We support your efforts to prioritize leadership in this critical area. We stand ready to partner with you and the Congress on a comprehensive policy agenda to ensure the entertainment industry recovers and delivers more of the vibrant movie, television, and streaming content that audiences around the world love. That agenda includes advancing strong copyright policy that rewards creators for their work, cracking down on the illegal piracy operations that threaten our creative economy, and ensuring government promotes and incentivizes production.”

See full text of letter below:

February 18, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:
Bonded by our shared commitment to the success of America’s creative community, we – the representatives of our nation’s film and television creators – look forward to working with you and your Administration to achieve the centerpiece of your agenda: uniting, rebuilding, and strengthening our country.

Our industry is comprised of much more than just red-carpet celebrities; the vast majority serve in behind-the-camera roles such as writers, costume designers, composers, animators, hair and makeup artists, set builders, lighting technicians, cinema workers, and caterers. We support 2.5 million U.S. jobs across a spectrum of skills and trades, help finance 320,000 businesses in cities and small towns across the country, and pay over $188 billion in wages annually. According to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the average annual salary in film and television production tops $103,000 – 75% higher than the average annual American wage – and we are proud to count ourselves among the most unionized sectors in the American economy. America’s film and television creators are the globe’s most successful: we bring more than $17 billion in international sales back to the U.S. economy and generate a trade surplus in every major world market.

First and foremost, we support efforts to help America overcome the challenges of COVID-19. For much of 2020 through to the present, significant portions of the industry shuttered. The pandemic has put roughly 465,000 film and television jobs in the U.S. at risk, and industry analysts have demonstrated that online piracy has spiked. Working together, unions and businesses within our industry developed extensive protocols that have allowed filming to resume safely. Production will not, however, return to normal levels until the country gets on top of the COVID crisis. We support your efforts to prioritize leadership in this critical area.

We stand ready to partner with you and the Congress on a comprehensive policy agenda to ensure the entertainment industry recovers and delivers more of the vibrant movie, television, and streaming content that audiences around the world love. That agenda includes advancing strong copyright policy that rewards creators for their work, cracking down on the illegal piracy operations that threaten our creative economy, and ensuring government promotes and incentivizes production.

Copyright protection, along with freedom of expression and the First Amendment, forms the foundation for the creative community’s success and will forge the path forward to a strong recovery. Copyright ensures respect for the basic human rights of creators and provides property rights which incentivize investment in the arts. It is because of copyright that the creative workforce receives the fruits of its labor. We look forward to working with you and your Administration to effectively protect and enforce these constitutionally enshrined rights.

In addition to strong copyright policy and enforcement, our industry will rely on the federal government to ensure our long-term success. Our industry’s output will depend on policies that ensure the United States provides a globally-competitive environment for production, including with tax, trade, and insurance policy.

We will depend on the leaders you choose to manage key federal agencies to facilitate the recovery and continued success of the American creative economy, especially at posts within the White House, Justice Department, Commerce Department, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and key enforcement agencies. We hope you will make clear that these appointees will ensure that the federal government prioritizes copyright and the American creative sector when crafting and enforcing policies that affect us. From advancing a trade agenda that rewards American creators to cracking down on piracy, the Administration must reject the notion that any American industry’s success depends on weakening copyright or profiteering from the work of the creative community.

The Biden Administration and the 117th Congress will have many goals and priorities – promises to keep and a legacy to build. The unions, guilds, and studios we represent pledge our commitment and confidence that, working together, we can unify our great country – stronger and more resilient.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Dorning President
Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE)

Matthew Loeb International President
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)

Charles H. Rivkin
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Motion Picture Association (MPA)

Russell Hollander
National Executive Director Directors Guild of America (DGA)

Jean Prewitt President and CEO
Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA)

David White
National Executive Director
Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)

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