In an escalating PR war regarding tax subsidies for production, the MPAA issued a press release this morning titled MPAA Analysis Refutes “False and Misleading” Study on Film Production Incentives by USC Assistant Professor Michael Thom.

The MPAA is attacking Michael Thom, a professor at USC, who authored the study "Lights, Camera but No Action" which was critical of film subsides. The MPAA questions Thom's findings and even his reputation.

The Tax Foundation's Joseph Henchman responded:

Motion Picture Association Fails to Refute Damaging Film Tax Credit Study

We'd recommend reading both, but here is an excerpt from the MPAA release:

"MPAA Senior Vice President for State Government Affairs Vans Stevenson said of the Thom study: "It is troubling and without excuse that such a false and misleading study, without statistical and intellectual foundation, would be recklessly promoted by an otherwise respected educational institution such as USC. It severely tarnishes the reputation of the university as well as the academic credentials of the author, USC assistant professor Michael Thom. This is academic malpractice, designed to make a provocative statement rather than offer sound policy analysis."

Here are some excerpts from Henchman's response:

"The press release is full of adjectives and adverbs: “troubling,” “false,” “misleading,” “recklessly,” “otherwise respected,” “tarnishes the reputation,” “academic malpractice,” and “provocative.” Provocative might be the key one: the MPAA is pretty upset that a university in its backyard dared to research the effectiveness of tax subsidies to the movie production industry, let alone come up with a result that suggests they don’t work."

"The MPAA obviously needed to respond to this study, which is very damaging to their efforts lobbying states for more film tax credits, and coming as about a dozen states have curtailed, suspended, or ended their programs."

"I don’t envy the MPAA: every independent study of film tax incentives has found they don’t pay for themselves in economic growth, jobs, and boosted tax receipts, and the combination of the recent recession and better stewardship of taxpayer dollars has meant many of these programs have hit the chopping block. There are still true believers, in New York and Georgia and some other places, but generally the idea of using taxpayer dollars to subsidize one of America's most successful industries has passed its peak."


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