City weighs plan to waive fees for producers of TV pilots

In the latest effort combat production flight, the Los Angeles City Council is weighing a plan to waive fees producers pay to shoot television pilots in the city.

The City Council’s Jobs and Business Development Committee on Wednesday endorsed a proposal to waive the various fees pilot producers pay when they shoot substantially in the city.

The motion comes in the wake of growing evidence that L.A. is losing its share of new television production, much as it did with feature film work.

In the most recent pilot year, 51% of all television pilots were filmed in the L.A. area, down from more than 80% in prior years. L.A. accounted for just 29% of all TV drama pilots produced for the 2012 pilot season, down from 63% in 2007, according to a recent study by FilmL.A. Inc., which handles film permits for the city and the county. As the initial episode of a proposed TV show, many pilots are made but only a few actually turn into full series for broadcast or cable television.


“We’ve got other cities that are hustling every day to steal Hollywood away,” said Councilman Eric Garcetti, who introduced the motion with Councilman Paul Krekorian. “I want to make sure that L.A. is poised to be the location for every next great television show.”

The move is among various steps the city has taken in recent years to become more film friendly, including capping taxes productions pay, installing electrical power nodes downtown and waiving or reducing parking fees on city-owned lots.

The City Council is expected to vote on the idea by August after city officials complete a study of the financial impact of waiving the fees.

The city in the last year collected about $360,000 in such fees -- which covers costs of reviewing permits and assigning city staff to projects -- from pilot producers.

It’s uncertain, however, whether the council will embrace the idea of giving up any revenues when the city is facing a severe budget crunch.

“It’s a very tough budget time and people may get nervous about waiving fees, but I’m more nervous about the declining economy,” said Garcetti, who represents parts of Hollywood and is in a close contest to be the next mayor of Los Angeles.

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