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NYC seeks $300 permit fee for filming

Associated Press / April 28, 2010

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NEW YORK — For the first time ever, television and film productions that come from all over the world to shoot in the city will have to pay for the City Hall permits that have always been free, a major change in policy that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration attributes to budget woes.

Senior Bloomberg administration officials summoned representatives from Hollywood studios, advertising, and labor unions yesterday to tell them about the proposed $300 fee for films, commercials, music videos, and television series.

To be sure, $300 is a barely noticeable budget line in most multimillion-dollar television and screen projects, and most major cities — including Los Angeles, New York’s major film competitor — already charge permit fees. But the change is an about-face in policy for a city that has long prided itself on uniquely providing free permits and other perks to lure projects to shoot in the iconic Big Apple.

Permits have been free since the city established a film office in 1966.

“At this stage with these unprecedented budget cuts, we have no other choice,’’ said Katherine Oliver, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. “We think this is the best way to go in this environment to address the cuts we are facing.’’

The city will have a comment period on the fee proposal and then schedule a public hearing.

The fee probably would raise less than $1 million a year, but still significant to the film and television office’s relatively small $2 million budget. The city’s budget is about $60 billion.

The charge would be required once for every movie, commercial, or music video shoot.