John Key is currently under pressure as the result of issues related to NZ’s intelligence services. And this all stems from the Kim Dotcom case, with John Key at its centre. It has been alleged that Key bowed to pressures from the Hollywood movie industry for NZ justice and spy services to co-operate in the pursuit of Dotcom’s Megaupload.
Similarly John Key bowed to pressure from Warner Brothers in extending taxpayer funding for the Hobbit movie production in NZ and to change NZ’s employment law to benefit Warners, and, ultimately other Hollywood movie corporates.
Now, according to John Drinnan on the NZ Herald, a public service report just released show there is no evidence of economic benefits resulting from tax payer funding for big overseas movies. He says:
… a public service report has revealed that a scheme central to enticing movie-makers – the Large Budget Screen Production Grant (LBSPG) – might actually have had a negative result.
Both Labour and National have smiled at the photo opportunities offered by Sir Peter Jackson and other Hollywood ventures. However, the long-delayed report from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage makes more sensible reading.
Of particular interest is an evaluation of the LBSPG scheme, a taxpayer handout central to New Zealand attempts to attract Hollywood studios.
The evaluation covers the period from its inception in 2004 to 2011.
Interesting that this report was held back, and then dumped in the public arena on a Friday, and amidst the coverage of the fallout from the GCSB Bill and the leaking of the Kitteridge Report by Andrea Vance.
While there has been analysis that shows modest net benefits from the LBSPG scheme from 2004-2011 (amounting to $13.6 million), Treasury is skeptical:
… a Cabinet paper on the scheme notes that Treasury has doubts about some of the assumptions used in the analysis, and considers it unlikely that there were any net benefits.
Steven Joyce’s MBIE recommends continuing with the LBSPG scheme after a bit of tweaking, largely to benefit smaller overseas TV productions in NZ. However, on the evidence, such tinkering is unlikely to produce any significant gains to NZ beyond the “feel good” factor. In contrast, there are major benefits to Hollywood given the financial incentives, a government willing to bend rules in the interests of US corporates, and the limited protections for workers’ rights.
While there may be a few small benefits to NZ from having overseas TV and movie productions in NZ, the economic benefits are unsubstantiated. As I explained here, there are many downsides for Kiwis in a 21st century where control over intellectual property is becoming a major issue. The downsides of sucking up to Hollywood corporates, includes:
The importing of foreign workers to do jobs New Zealanders could do.
Hollywood productions tend to promote US culture and values.
Hollywood producers international control over copyright, and intellectual property (TPPA issues).
In that post, I concluded:
There are very real concerns about big US-based film and media conglomerates, along with related investment and financial companies, attempts to extend their hold over digital copyright laws. This is being done in ways that will promote their own interests, and restrict the international promotion of Kiwi creativity. This is a significant part of the current TPPA negotiations being conducted in secret.
Helen Kelly says:
No they’re not transparent, and what’s at stake here, it is very complicated, but what’s at stake here for example is there may be very much restricted use of the internet as these Hollywood producers try to protect their intellectual property which is one interest, but as New Zealanders perhaps in smaller film industry and creative industries want to use the internet to promote New Zealand culture and New Zealand industry.
And Jane Kelsey says something similar
What’s we’re seeing now are sets of rules that Hollywood wants that would make it virtually impossible to engage in many of the innovative industries and practices on the internet, and it would turn ISPs into effective police of the internet, on behalf of Hollywood.
So, out of the complicated interweaving of Hobbit laws, big movie subsidies, intellectual copyright, secret TPP negotiations, the Kim Dotcom-GCSB-Vance saga, Key’s love of big Hollywood corporates does not seem to be producing significant benefits to NZ.