Why the Cancellation of the TV Show Nashville is Good for Taxpayers


May 13, 2016 3:14PM

There was some big news in the entertainment industry yesterday as the television show “Nashville” was cancelled after four seasons. As a casual fan of the show and a Nashville resident, I enjoyed watching the show. It allowed me to brag to my friends about where I live, plus the music was always on point. Obviously the market didn’t agree, as the ratings were not high enough for ABC to renew the show for another year.

However, the real issue with this show being cancelled has nothing to do with the quality of the show itself. The problem is that this is another example of corporate handouts gone wrong. To date, the show “Nashville” has received over $45 million in “incentives,” with almost all of it coming directly out of the pocket of state and local taxpayers to fund a show that clearly could not succeed on its own merit. This is essentially the entertainment version of Solyndra.

The show serves as a great example of everything that is wrong with corporate handouts. First of all, study after study shows that film incentives have a terrible return on investment. The government always loves to make up projections and equate completely unrelated outcomes when it defends the “benefits” of giving away taxpayer dollars to corporations. But even the government can’t lie its way into pretending film incentives have any real value. The average return on investment for film incentives is somewhere around 30 cents on the dollar.

Second, the show “Nashville” followed the example of many corporations across the United States in holding the state that gave it money hostage. Once the state and city of Nashville gave the show millions in taxpayer dollars, the show’s producers threatened to leave Nashville and film in Austin, Texas if we didn’t pony up more taxpayer money. This is just legalized blackmail. It’s like feeding the birds (or in this case vultures); once you give them food they are going to keep coming back for more.

The “Nashville” example also shows why corporate handouts are morally wrong. This was another example of the government picking winners and losers with taxpayer money on the line. The government is gambling with our hard-earned money on TV shows; this is unfair and appalling. Plus from the looks of it, Tennessee government seems to be gambling with our money at the casino from Vegas Vacation. Even with the $45 million additional dollars, the show “Nashville” still couldn’t succeed. Businesses, including TV shows, should succeed or fail based on their own merits, not because of who they know or how much money they can squeeze out of taxpayers.

As much as I’ll miss Rayna, Deacon, and the crew, I am glad for the sake of my pocketbook and yours that ”Nashville” has been cancelled. I am hopeful that the cancellation of the show will expose this corrupt and unfair corporate handout system to the light of day.