Alaska News

'Bering Sea Gold' cashing in on state film subsidies?

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that Discovery Channel's reality TV show "Bering Sea Gold" collected far more state subsidies in its first season than it paid out in Alaska wages.

The TV show, set in and around Nome, collected $322,732 in state subsidies for its first season, while it paid out a total of $54,092 in wages to three Alaska residents who worked an average of one month per person. For hiring said Alaskans, California-based Original Productions received an "Alaska hire" credit of $5,409 included in the subsidy.

This is the eighth subsidy doled out by the state to the California company in recent years. It also receives subsidies for shows "Deadliest Catch," "Ax Men" and "Ice Road Truckers."

The show's focus on the historic Northwest Alaska mining town may bring some benefits, however. Earlier this summer, mayor Denise Michels estimated that tourism is up 60 percent, in large part because of the television exposure. "It's good for business," she told Alaska Dispatch.

Alaska reality television shows have skyrocketed in recent years, starting with "Deadliest Catch" and continuing with everything from "Flying Wild" to "Alaska State Troopers," to the most recent "Yukon Men." So far, the trend has shown no sign of slowing down, but its total effect is not completely understood.

Read more, here, including how much the 23 Outside members of Bering Sea Gold's Alaska production crew were paid, and whether or not their wages are considered "Alaska production expenses."

Craig Medred

Craig Medred is a former writer for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2015.