New Mexico: The TV-Friendly State

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Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a possible 2008 presidential candidate, will speak at the Radio-Television News Directors Association convention in Las Vegas April 20.

His topic will be, not surprisingly, "the relationship of the news media and the government."

We're not sure of just what the governor feels that relationship is, or should be--his office had not given us a heads-up at press time about any specifics--but we know the relationship he wants with the entertainment side of the TV business: Cozy, at least in terms of economics.

Just last week, the governor announced he had signed a package of five bills to attract TV and film production through tax credits, loans and other incentives. In addition, he announced that Lions Gate will produce the new ABC Family series, Wildfire, in New Mexico

"We're showing quality organizations like Lions Gate that we will do whatever it takes to win their business."

Whatever it took included an interest-free, $4 million loan. In addition, thanks to one of the new bills, there is $2 million more available through a Film Workforce Training Program that will pay up to half the salaries of eligible local workers--Lions Gate says it will employ about 120 New Mexicans.

"We decided to bring the production of Wildfire to New Mexico after successfully obtaining a good mix of labor and tax credits and creative financing options," said Lions Gate SVP, TV and Production Finance, Mark Manuel.

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