A number of top television networks and production studios have joined the growing list of companies who have vowed an economic boycott of the state of Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal does not veto a religious freedom bill that passed the state Legislature last week.
CBS, NBCUniversal, Discovery, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, and Sony have all vowed to stop producing projects in the Peach State over what the bill’s opponents say is an “anti-gay,” discriminatory measure.
“CBS Corporation is committed to an environment that values diversity and inclusion throughout the company and in all our business practices,” the company said in a statement released Thursday. “The discriminatory language in Georgia’s proposed religious liberty bill conflicts with these core ethics and values. We call on Governor Deal to exercise his veto power.”
Dozens of companies have urged Deal to veto HB 757, officially known as the Free Exercise Protection Act, before the May 3 deadline. The bill would allow faith-based organizations to deny services to anyone if serving him or her violates their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” It would also require government to provide a “compelling” reason to impede residents’ free exercise of religion.
The “compromise” version of the bill, which passed both chambers of the state legislature last week, also includes a provision that bars all state and federally prohibited discrimination.
NBCU, MGM, and Discovery all released statements urging Deal to veto the bill on Thursday.
“At Comcast NBCUniversal we are proud of our record of inclusion and stand against discrimination of all forms,” the company wrote. “We join the voices that urge Governor Deal to protect Georgia from any discriminatory laws.”
Meanwhile, studios 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, and Sony have also vowed to halt productions in Georgia if the bill becomes law. The studios join Disney, who threatened a boycott of the state earlier his week.
“As a Company committed to diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance, we urge the Governor of Georgia to veto the deplorable and regressive legislation (House Bill 757) that has been sent to him,” Lionsgate, which filmed portions of its Hunger Games films in the state, said in a statement. “We take pride in our relationship with the people of Georgia and want to ensure that we can continue to offer our employees and talent there a working environment consistent with our policies and values.”
Georgia has emerged as one of the top destinations for Hollywood productions. The state offers some of the most generous tax credits in the country, and nearly 250 film and television projects lensed there last year, contributing a total of $1.7 billion in spending to the state economy.
Dozens of major corporations, including those headquartered in Georgia like Coca-Cola and UPS, have formed a business coalition called Georgia Prospers to fight the bill. Also this week, the NFL announced that Deal’s decision would be a factor in discussions about where to host future Super Bowl games.