By David Zurawik
The Baltimore Sun
3:57 PM EDT, April 28, 2014
After more than two months of stories about the producers of "House of Cards" threatening to leave Maryland if they didn't get $15 million from the state to help offset the costs of production, the announcement Friday that they were staying was big news.
And WJZ-TV, Baltimore's CBS-owned station, had the story in its 11 p.m. newscast Friday.
Except it had the story wrong -- to the point where instead of viewers being told that the legislature and Gov. Martin O'Malley did not give the producers the final $3.5 million that they wanted, WJZ made it sound as if the producers got more than they had even asked for.
I am posting a screen grab of the graphic that ran with the story, so you can see the bad math at the heart of the report.
What Media Rights Capital, the California production company that makes "House of Cards," will get for Season 3 is $4 million in incentives that was originally in the state budget, as well as $7.5 million in grants from two separate funds, for a total of $11.5 million.
The producers say they qualified for and were promised $15 million. They had been threatening to leave over the $3.5 million difference.
After being contacted by The Sun about the erroneous report, spokesman K.C. Robertson emailed the following response and said a correction would be aired Monday night:
The story about House of Cards on Friday Night incorrectly calculated the total of grants and tax breaks provided to the show. The correct figure of $11.5 million was reported in the lead-in to the story and in the written report on the station website. However, the graphic and copy within the video report itself was incorrect in stating the grants were over and above the total $11.5 million figure.
Actually, the written report on the station's website also carried the incorrect information:
Last month, the Netflix series laid out the red carpet for delegates divided over increasing tax incentives. In the end, the agreement gives the show $11.5 million in film industry tax credits and another $7.5 million in grants from the 2015 budget.
That sentence about a "red carpet" being "laid out for delegates" is problematic in that it might lead some viewers to believe their elected representative had somehow been influenced to give MRC $7.5 million more than they did -- for a total of $19 million.
Click here to see the correction WJZ aired Monday night during newscasts at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
WJZ-TV has a content sharing agreement with The Sun. The incorrect video of Friday's report was posted on The Sun's website.
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