ACLU Pressures State Senate to Pass Diversity Bill for TV Shows in New York


The ACLU is pushing for a bill that would provide tax relief to TV shows in New York for employing women and people of color as writers and directors.

New York would be the first state to approve such legislation, initially proposed in 2013. The bill is currently in the hands of the New York Senate and, according to Deadline, “would amend the state’s existing $420 million annual tax incentives program to allocate $5 million toward those salaries,” if passed.

Under the bill, TV shows would receive a “diversity tax credit” of $50,000 for each woman or minority hired. Crain’s notes that those employees “must be qualified New York taxpayers, which the bill’s backers say addresses the fact that most scripts of New York productions are being written out of state.”

The ACLU of SoCal, New York Civil Liberties Union and ACLU Women’s Rights Project released a joint statement, citing all the poor diversity stats across television. WGA research showed that only 30 percent of TV writers are women and 13 percent are minorities. Numbers are just as discouraging among directors:

A recent DGA study found that in the 2014-2015 network season and the 2014 cable season, white men directed 69% of the episodes while men of color directed only 15%, and that white women directed only 13% and women of color directed just 3%.

And showrunners are 90 percent white, 80 percent male.

ACLU rep Melissa Goodman said in the statement, “It’s clear that the industry needs the incentives called for in this bill, along with external pressure from civil rights enforcement agencies, to finally fix this long-running, entrenched problem.”

The bill corresponds with a similar ACLU initiative that involves a federal investigation of gender discrimination in Hollywood.

Image screengrab via TV Guide

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