You may have actually noticed the Duck dynasty has been in the news recently, and not just because of the Robertson family’s usual shenanigans. Instead, the dispute revolves about the generous subsidies that Louisiana taxpayers are providing for the producers and cast that the struggle A&E reality series.

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It shows up to have actually started with an short article on the Inquisitr website, quoting one “industry insider” who estimates

that the Duck Dynasty cast, i beg your pardon is payment $200,000 per week to appear on the popular reality show, receives federal government benefits of $70,000 for every episode of the A&E cable display from the state, even though Louisiana freshly slashed funding for health treatment programs and pension programs because that public employee such together police, teachers, and also firefighters.

That was complied with by coverage in the right-wing blogosphere, and also finally a column in Sunday’s Baton Rouge support by James Gill, who stated that that Robertson family members patriarch, Phil, has actually been denounced as a hypocrite because that criticizing welfare program at the very same time that his family benefits from state subsidies.

There are just two problems with this coverage: First, the neglects to point out that the state has actually yet to fork end a dime to the Duck dynasty producers. The won’t happen until audits space finished. An ext importantly, it significantly understates the state’s financial exposure, i beg your pardon stands at $6.2 million and also is poised to grow significantly.

First, part background ~ above the film program: The state offers Hollywood taxation credits the cover 30 cent of every dollar spent on movie or TV productions in Louisiana. Because that actors (or “on-air talent” favor the Robertson family) the transaction is also better, as tax credits cover 35 percent that salaries. These tax credits are totally refundable, an interpretation recipients deserve to redeem them even if they have no state taxes liability. Because most production companies nothing owe Louisiana taxes, the taxation credits work-related as a direct cash subsidy.

Check out LBP’s 2012 report for a thorough background on how the Hollywood taxation credits work.

Although Duck empire recently started its 6th season, producers have only submitted expense reports because that the very first three seasons. These fall into three categories: full budget, Louisiana expenditures (the lot eligible because that state subsidies), and also “on-air talent,” i beg your pardon is part of the Louisiana expenditures and also denotes what was paid to the Robertson family and their co-stars.

Table 1 Duck empire Louisiana budget

SeasonTotal BudgetLouisiana expendituresOn-air talent
Season 1 (15 episodes)$4,402,878$1,858,089$381,413
Season 2 (13 episodes)$9,816,594$4,465,378$1,193,650
Season 3 (13 episodes)$21,275,278$12,990,695$6,071,200

The show’s Season 1 spending plan was fairly modest, and the Robertson clan – then greatly unknown – was being paid well, yet not extravagantly. The was, after all, a brand-new show, and no one had any idea exactly how audiences would certainly respond.

But American viewers fell hard because that the hirsute waterfowl enthusiasts. And also the Robertson family was suddenly getting paid like the overnight emotion they had become. Through Season 3, the cast was gift paid nearly 15 time as much as in season one – an ext than $6 million for 11 episodes. And also the taxpayers’ liability to be skyrocketing together well.


This following table shows just how much Louisiana taxpayers will cough up because that the very first three seasons of the show.

Table 2 Duck empire subsidies

SeasonCast (35%)Production (30%)Total Cost every episode
1$133,495$443,002$576,497$38,433
2$417,777$981,518$1,399,295$107,638
3$2,194,920$2,075,849$4,270,769$328,521

Add it all up and Louisiana will pay a little much more than $6.2 million for the an initial 41 episodes of Duck Dynasty, and probably a good deal more once the producers submit your receipts because that seasons 4 through six and beyond. After paying a mere $38,433 per episode once the present was finding an audience, state taxpayers are now kicking in $328,521 because that each half-hour episode. That’s more than eight time the $39,823 median earnings in Ouachita Parish, whereby the Robertsons live.

We recognize from previous research studies that every dollar the state spends on taxation credits brings in around 15 cent in new tax revenue to the state, which way the much more money the Robertsons earn, the much less money the state needs to spend on road repairs, college textbooks, health and wellness care and also public safety.

And below we obtain to the huge problem through Louisiana’s film program.

If a state decides the it wants to subsidize film and TV productions – together dozens of states are currently doing – it makes some feeling to incentivize risk-taking endeavors choose the Duck dynasty pilot. ~ all, because that every hit display there are a dozen tragedies like “The Governor’s Wife.” A generous movie subsidy program makes it an ext likely that producers will proceed to look at in Louisiana for the next generation of truth stars, instead of, say, Alabama or Texas.

But it provides no sense, in a state that struggles to provide straightforward services come its citizens, for taxpayers to continue their open-ended jae won support once a pilot becomes a an international sensation the generates $80 million a year in ad revenue and untold millions more in product licensing.

If anything, the state have to be demanding a re-superstructure of the profits, since its taxpayers mutual in the financial risk that the producers absorbed creating the show.

And the brings us to a last point, make by Mr. Gill however which bear repeating. It’s simple to reprimand the Robertson family members for this mess, and to vilify them for accepting state aid while criticizing program that assist support bad families. Yet the Robertsons are only playing by the rules collection by the state, which developed the movie program and also continues to safeguard it regardless of the damage it has actually done to Louisiana’s budget.

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Instead the steering taxation subsidies to the Robertson family, a much better choice for Louisiana policymakers would certainly be to cap the film routine so the dollars can be reinvested in communities that truly require the help.