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AMC threatens to pull "The Walking Dead" out of Georgia

Netflix to fight Georgia's abortion bill
  • AMC joins more than half a dozen media and entertainment companies in saying it would "reevaluate" its investment in Georgia.
  • At issue is the new anti-abortion law Gov. Brian Kemp has signed that goes into effect in 2020.
  • The state's film industry supported more than 92,000 local jobs and accounted for $2.7 billion in direct spending in 2018.

AMC could serve a major blow to Georgia's thriving entertainment business if it follows through on a threat to pull production on its films and TV shows — including the wildly popular series "The Walking Dead" — from the state. AMC Networks joined more than half a dozen media and entertainment companies in saying it would "reevaluate" its investment in Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a controversial "fetal heartbeat" bill into law last month. The law, which would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, is set to take effect in January 2020.

"If this highly restrictive legislation goes into effect, we will reevaluate our activity in Georgia," AMC Networks said in a statement to CBS News. "Similar bills — some even more restrictive — have passed in multiple states and have been challenged. This is likely to be a long and complicated fight and we are watching it all very closely." 

The hit TV show, which takes place after a zombie apocalypse, is currently in its 10th season of filming in the Atlanta area. It's one of 32 film or TV productions from HBO, Warner Bros., Netflix and other studios with production hubs in the state. Georgia offers incentives that include a 30% tax credit for projects filmed locally. 

Netflix, Walt Disney, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Sony Pictures, CBS and Showtime are among the entertainment companies that have threatened to boycott Georgia in a show of their support for women's rights. CBS and its Showtime division last week said Georgia and other states "may not be viable locations for our future production" should anti-abortion legislation be enacted. "Should it ever come into effect, we'd rethink our entire investment in Georgia," said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. 

Georgia hit with backlash from entertainment industry over new abortion law

Common among studios' statements is that they don't firmly commit to withdrawing their investments from Georgia. "If you look at the statements these companies' CEOs are making, they aren't taking a clear stance or making a clear decision that's decisive," said BAM Communications founder Beck Bamberger. "It's not bold, it's not decisive, it's super-safe."

She said any upheaval would be challenging for studios. "From a logistical standpoint, it would be a nightmare for them to take this stance," she said, citing restaffing and other production costs. 

But Georgia would likely be hit hard. In 2018, the state's film industry supported more than 92,000 local jobs and accounted for $2.7 billion in direct spending, state officials said. Generous incentives combined with a low cost of living make it attractive to the film industry.

Georgia isn't alone in luring studios through state tax breaks. California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Washington also offer meaningful tax rebates and production incentives. They say they're open for business for companies that vow to boycott Georgia.

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