Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and a bipartisan slate of co-sponsors have put a bill before Congress which would restore the late lamented minority tax certificate. The mechanism was killed in 1995 due to alleged abuses, but is still widely seen as one of the best tools for promoting SDB broadcast ownership in the government’s arsenal. The Menendez bill would provide for $350M over six years in tax credits that would go to companies selling communications properties to socially-disadvantaged businesses.
“This is a very effective way to promote diversity of voices and increase competition in the telecommunications industry. I support diversity in media ownership because it provides a window into communities, languages, views, and values that might not otherwise be heard without these outlets,” said Sen. Menendez. “Unfortunately, we see major news outlets airing too many sensationalist stories on outlandish topics, such as immigrants with leprosy, black street gangs or Mexican plots to re-conquer the United States. Americans should be able to flip to stations where we can hear about Asian-American CEOs revolutionizing their industries, African-American doctors saving lives, and Hispanic soldiers, many of whom are not yet citizens, bravely fighting overseas under the flag of the country they’re proud to call their own. When we talk about minority-run outlets, we’re not just talking about broadcasters, we’re talking about advocates—advocates our communities depend on.”
A bipartisan slate of co-sponsors includes Ken Salazar (D-CO), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
RBR/TVBR observation: This bill figures to have very little opposition, although you never know when somebody may have an amendment or two they’d like to tag onto it. For a commentary on the history of the tax certificate and ways to keep it court-friendly going ahead, see today’s commentary from Brett Miller at Only on RBR.com