Cuomo throwing cash at CBS, NBC to keep late night shows in NYC

Gov. Cuomo promised NBC and CBS tens of millions of dollars’ worth of taxpayer-subsidized incentives to keep the kings of late-night TV in the Big Apple.

And, like many of the jokes by Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert, the money is nothing to laugh at.

CBS scored up to $16 million in tax credits and cash to keep “The Late Show” broadcasting from Manhattan after the May 2015 retirement of longtime host David Letterman.

That included $5 million just to renovate CBS’s Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway at West 53rd Street.

Cuomo claimed the funding from Empire State Development would preserve 200 local jobs.

But CBS has made out like a bandit during late night, thanks in part to President Trump taking office.

Colbert’s relentless jabs at Trump propelled his show ahead of the late-night competition last year after consistently trailing Fallon’s “Tonight Show,” and Colbert holds a 1.2 million-viewer edge in this season’s ratings.

In its latest quarterly earnings report, CBS touted a 22 percent increase in operating income from its entertainment division.

NBC — which notched a 58 percent surge in broadcast TV revenue during its latest quarter, driven by the 2018 Olympics and the Super Bowl — landed an even sweeter deal.

Following secret talks between the network and his administration, Cuomo quietly inserted a provision into the 2013-2014 budget that let “The Tonight Show” qualify for New York’s generous Film Production Tax Credit program.

The move paved the way for the show’s relocation from Burbank, Calif., to NBC’s headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza after Jay Leno ended his second stint as host in February 2014.

The tax program covers 30 percent of “The Tonight Show” production costs, and amounted to nearly $21 million on about $70 million in qualified spending during the program’s first year, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported last year.

John Kaehny, of the watchdog Reinvent Albany group, called the state spending on Colbert’s and Fallon’s shows a “complete waste of money.”

“It’s a complete absurdity, and it’s not based on any hardheaded analysis,” he said.

“Those talk shows would have been here anyway.”

Empire State Development spokesman Jason Conwall defended the deals.

“New York was in a fierce competition against multiple states for both shows, and producers consistently cite the tax-credit program as a leading factor in their decision to film and produce in New York — and the reason why they don’t choose to take their business elsewhere,” he said.

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