Mayor Bloomberg to Media Industry: We're Here to Help

NYC Plan Includes Funding Research, Retraining, Technology

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NEW YORK ( -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to save New York's media industry. Many who toil in publishing, TV and radio have wondered throughout this recession how much of their troubles they can blame on the cyclical downturn -- and how they can pin on big structural changes in the business.

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg
New York's plans to help its media sector, introduced today by Mr. Bloomberg after the city consulted with many prominent media executives, seem to represent a vote that something fundamental is happening.

"New York City is the media capital of the world," Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement, after all, "but with the industry undergoing profound changes it's incumbent on us to take steps now to capitalize on growth opportunities and ensure we remain an industry leader."

If the city thought it just needed to buy time until a big bouncy recovery, moreover, it might have focused on cheap loans for media companies, or maybe financial support for laid-off media workers. Instead its eight plans include many focusing on innovation, research, retraining and new technology.

They are:

  • Forming a New York City Media Lab, a research center for media companies, universities and others to collaborate on research, share findings and provide a physical center for networking, lectures and workshops. The city's Economic Development Corp. plans to release a request for proposals this month, seeking partners to develop the lab and get it operating by January.

  • Issuing tax-exempt bonds to help companies buy new manufacturing, research or production facilities; retrofit existing buildings for high-tech servers; or make big information technology purchases. The city's Media Tech Bonds can be used to finance projects costing $1 million to $10 million.

  • Starting a Media and Tech Fellowship program meant to encourage start-ups and innovation. The program manager, whom the city plans to choose by October, will pick about 20 recipients a year based on criteria such as experience, demonstrated innovation and business plans that could produce job creation in New York. Fellows will get training, mentoring and support services.

  • Helping start-ups and small tech firms do business with the city. The plan calls for encouraging companies and start-ups to team up on bids for city IT contracts, hosting forums on the city's procurement process and connecting big contractors with small potential sub-contractors.

  • Hosting an annual software competition called NYC Big Apps seeking digital applications that use city data. The Economic Development Corporation issued a request for expressions of interest in June and an RFP for a competition partner on July. The first round of winners will be chosen early next year.

  • Starting a center for media freelancers in lower Manhattan. The Downtown Alliance is partnering with the city to outfit a 5,000-square-foot space with work stations and services such as contract editing, news feeds and conference space. The center will provide space for 50 freelancers as well as 1,850 part-time and drop-in workers.

  • Creating a training program to help people find opportunities in new media. The program, called JumpStart New Media, will include a training "boot camp" and 10-week unpaid "apprenticeships" with new media companies. The first class will include about 50 participants.

  • Recruiting across Asia, the Middle East, Silicon Valley and greater Boston for businesses to locate in New York.

The city is also setting up a site at where it hopes traditional and new media pros will interact on subjects from paid content to the Long Tail theory.

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