The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on legislators in New York to pass a bill that would make the state the first to grant financial incentives to television shows that hire women and minority writers and directors. The bill would allocate $5 million of the state’s existing $420 million annual tax incentives toward those salaries.
“Discrimination in the television industry is a serious civil rights problem that affects us all,” said Melissa Goodman, director of the LGBTQ, Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at the ACLU SoCal. “Excluding the voices of women and people of color from one of our most powerful cultural products reinforces stereotypes and bias people experience in their everyday lives. 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.”
“Whatever the outcome of the federal investigation, the entertainment industry should act now to promote equal opportunity behind the camera,” said Lenora Lapidus, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “The film production tax credit already has brought millions of dollars to the state and put countless creative New Yorkers to work. This bill holds tremendous promise for incentivizing the industry to hire even more of them – and to do so in a way that assures all of our stories make it on-screen.”
A recent DGA study found that in the 2015-2016 network season, women directed 17% of television episodes and ethnic minorities as a whole directed 18.5%.
“New York is an entertainment capital and a progressive leader,” said Bernadette Brown, deputy legislative director for the New York Civil Liberties Union. “By creating incentives for equity and inclusion in television, the state has a powerful opportunity to promote greater awareness of how we perceive race and gender, and how we act on those perceptions — how a police officer views a black man; how a teacher treats a Latino child; what a young girl believes she can accomplish when she grows up.”