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WarnerMedia, Disney join Netflix in threatening to leave Georgia

Christopher Palmeri and Lucas Shaw

Bloomberg

 /  Fri, May 31, 2019  /  11:03 am
WarnerMedia, Disney join Netflix in threatening to leave Georgia

The sign for a Disney retail store in York, on 26th August 2015. (Shutterstock/File)

AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia and Walt Disney Co. are following Netflix Inc.’s lead in threatening to leave Georgia if a controversial anti-abortion law takes effect.

WarnerMedia -- owner of HBO, CNN and the Warner Bros. studio -- said on Thursday that it will “reconsider Georgia as the home to any new productions” if the legislation becomes law. That echoed remarks made by Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger on Wednesday. He told Reuters it would be “very difficult” to keep film production in the state if abortion ban is upheld.

“I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard,” he said. “Right now we are watching it very carefully.”

Netflix Inc. said earlier this week that it would reconsider its “entire investment” in Georgia, where it has filmed “Stranger Things” and “Ozark,” if the law survives legal challenges.

Read also: Netflix could reconsider investment in Georgia over abortion law

“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said on Tuesday. “Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”

Georgia has some of the most generous film and TV subsidies in the country, and it’s become a popular hub for production. Disney shot several of its biggest recent hits there, including “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Panther.” The company declined to elaborate on Iger’s remarks.

WarnerMedia’s Turner Broadcasting, meanwhile, is based in Atlanta -- Georgia’s largest city.

“We operate and produce work in many states and within several countries at any given time and while that doesn’t mean we agree with every position taken by a state or a country and their leaders, we do respect due process,” the company said. “As is always the case, we will work closely with our production partners and talent to determine how and where to shoot any given project.”

Heartbeat law

The law would ban abortions once the doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat -- typically about six weeks into a pregnancy. It makes an exception to prevent death or serious harm to the woman or in cases of rape or incest where a police report was filed.

In responding to the law, the Motion Picture Association of America has pointed out that similar legislation has been challenged in other states. It’s maintaining a wait-and-see approach.

“The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process,” the organization said. “We will continue to monitor developments.”