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Waste of the Day: California Gave $94 Million Tax Credits for Two Harmful TV Series

January 16, 2024

Two TV series targeting teens, “13 Reasons Why” and “Euphoria” — one of which was linked to a spike in teen suicide and the other is considered soft porn — received $94 million in California tax credits.

TV series “13 Reasons Why,” produced by Paramount, was linked to a spike in teen suicide, according to the National Institutes of Health. Seasons 1-4 of the show received $45.8 million in reserved tax credits, Adam Andrzejewski, OpenTheBooks CEO/Founder, wrote on Substack.

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Waste of the Day 1.16.24

“Euphoria,” the pilot and seasons 1-3, produced by Warner Brothers, received $48.4 million in reserved tax credits. That series came under fire as soft porn for teens, glamorizing sex among high schoolers, violence and drug use.

California’s program through the California Film Commission hands out $330 million annually in tax credits to incentivize filmmakers to produce their projects in the state. The tax credits also became refundable last year, allowing companies to get cash back, rather than just reducing their tax liability. 

Netflix told shareholders that it has more credits than it can use, and lobbied for the refund. Since July 2020, the streaming company has been allocated nearly $180 million in tax credits.

While the tax credits for “13 Reasons Why” came while Newsom was Lt. Governor, “Euphoria” received its most recent credit while Newsom was governor.

The governor and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, have made teen mental health a top public concern, yet neither have spoken out against either harmful series.

Paramount produced “13 Reasons Why” and Netflix distributed it. Warner Bros. Discovery produced “Euphoria” and HBO (a Warner Bros company) distributed it. All the companies have executives that funded the Newsom campaigns, OpenTheBooks reported.

Paramount, its executives, and employees donated $84,773 to Newsom’s campaign between 2018 and 2022. Paramount is owned by National Amusements, a merger of CBS and Viacom and later rebranded under Paramount Global.

Warner Bros. Discovery, its executives, and employees gave the Newsom campaign $96,280. The company was formed in 2022 by a merger between WarnerMedia, which spun off from AT&T, and Discovery, Inc.

Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings gave the anti-recall campaign against Gov. Newsom $3 million and company executives and Netflix employees gave Newsom’s campaign $170,000.

While supporters of the tax programs argue it helps keep jobs, private sector spending, and industry innovation in the state, critics contend the tax incentives don’t create permanent jobs or encourage new economic activity. Instead, big studios reap the economic benefits, while states offer bigger and better tax deals.

 The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.
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