A broad entertainment industry coalition Friday begged Senate leadership to push ahead with Federal aid for pandemic insurance since it’s near impossible to get back to work without it, especially for independent film.
Short of something really big — like the public-private Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA) originally proposed last May by New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney — a group including the MPA, IFTA, Hollywood guilds and even NASCAR urged a “bridge” solution, similar to dedicated funds set up in other countries like the U.K.
“The lack of business insurance coverage for coronavirus pandemic losses is a critical issue for the economy at large, but it is a threshold issue for the continued operation of our industries. Simply put, it is enormously challenging for us to go back to work absent pandemic insurance coverage. Federal legislation is needed to get American workers meaningfully back to work on films, television, and sports productions,” said the letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chairman Sherrod Brown and Ranking Member Pat Toomey.
Pandemic insurance disappeared in March. Independent film producers have suffered unduly from being unable to insure against losses from shutdowns or illnesses of key cast members because private banks are afraid to finance productions. Even some major studios, which can self insure, won’t risk investment in big budget, large cast productions. Productions are still going forward, but many fewer.
The pandemic has impacted 464,000 film and television jobs in the U.S. to date. Roughly 400 film and television productions were canceled last year, the group said. “The need for federal assistance is urgent and intensifies by the day.”
“Our industry needs direct intervention by the federal government to jumpstart production throughout the United States, through temporary, targeted federal funds that provide the necessary guarantees of loss coverage so that productions can go forward. Such programs now exist in other countries. Providing this protection for productions now would get our U.S. industry back to work at a critical time and would ensure diversity of content in the months to come,” it said.
Read full letter below:
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