Is “Nashville” TV Show Worth the Cost?

September 20, 2014 12:11PM

This week, the city of Nashville approved a grant of $1 million in taxpayer money, doubling its previous grant, to keep production of ABC’s hit TV series “Nashville” in Music City. Claims by ABC that production of the third season of the popular series may relocate to Georgia or Texas has sparked action by Tennessee officials. This $1 million incentive grant by the Metro Council, coupled with a $5.5 million incentive grant  from the state of Tennessee according to the Nashville Scene, should cause us to question why our government is funding a TV series that makes millions of dollars each season and does little in return to help the average Tennessee taxpayer. Is it the responsibility of Tennessee state and local governments to incentivize private industries? And if we allow taxpayer dollars to be frivolously spent on “Nashville,” where do we draw the line in the future? Proponents of the incentives claim that Nashville and Tennessee benefit tremendously from keeping production local—through increased job opportunities, major spending in the area, and “immeasurable” marketing benefits, as viewers around the country are exposed to the exciting music scene of Nashville on their TV screens each Wednesday night. However, these proponents fail to realize that economic development incentives, particularly in the film industry, are often irresponsible investments from which taxpayers rarely see the benefits. Critics have noted that in many states, film industry incentives have at most a 30 cent return on the dollar, an “investment” that no person would make with their own money. It is unjust and unreasonable to expect Tennessee taxpayers to fund the production of a highly profitable show, especially when many do not even tune in on Wednesday nights. -Kate Cavenaugh