Billions in aid for the production industry, but for what exactly?

On Monday, Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. While a lot of the talk about the bill has centered around the economic aid it would (or would not) give to millions of individual Americans – as well as President Trump’s threats to veto it – there are billions of dollars in aid the bill provides to the entertainment industry.

Below we’ve outlined some of the ways the proposed bill will benefit the film, television and production industry.

Save Our Stages Act

This $15 billion aid package will provide grants to support live venues and small, independently owned movie theaters. Theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, and museums can also apply for these grants.

According to Deadline:

“The Save Our Stages Act would be targeted to small- and medium-sized theaters and venues with 500 employees or less, and to those that lost at least 25% in revenue. It applies to multiple aspects of the live and theatrical business, including venue operators, promoters, producers, performing arts organizations, museum operators, and talent representatives.”

Paycheck Protection Program Reboot

The bill will add an additional $284 billion for potentially forgivable loans. During the previous PPP lending period, many producers, post-production shops and entertainment firms benefited from this resource.

Copyright and Content Protection Provisions

The bill will include measures that make it a felony to operate a pirate streaming service. Specifics of the legislation include criminal penalties – including prison time – for those who “willfully, and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, offer or provide to the public a digital transmission service” that offers unauthorized movies and TV shows. Additionally, the CARES Act creates a small claims court for copyright disputes.

Individual Aid

In addition to the above measures – and others not outlined here – the bill proposes many relief options to support individual households, which production industry professionals may be able to take advantage of, including: direct relief payments (there have been many disagreements over the amount deemed to be sufficient); enhanced unemployment benefits; rent payment assistance; employee retention credits and broadband access.

As of Christmas Eve, it was unclear whether President Trump would veto the bill due to his assertion that the direct relief payments were insufficient. If Trump fails to sign the package by Monday December 28th, a current stopgap funding measure will run out, and the government is expected to go into a shutdown.

We’re hoping this bill will be approved soon, to give the production industry a much-needed boost.

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