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Encourage Diversity in Broadcasting: Reinstate the Tax Certificate Program


The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) supports initiatives that will improve diversity in broadcasting and create new opportunities for women, people of color and other underrepresented communities. Since 2000, the NAB Leadership Foundation has a strong track record of preparing women and people of color to purchase and run radio and television stations. But the most impactful program to expand diversity in broadcast ownership - the Diversity Tax Certificate Program - was eliminated by Congress in 1995. Broadcasters support legislation to reinstate this successful program and to eliminate barriers that prevent ownership of local TV and radio stations by underrepresented individuals.

Here's why:

In 1978, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established the Minority Tax Certificate Program, which provided a tax incentive to those who sold their majority interest in a broadcast station to minorities. From 1978 to 1995, the program was highly effective in leveling the playing field for underrepresented broadcasters, increasing diverse ownership in broadcast stations by more than 550 percent.

Unfortunately, Congress repealed this program in 1995. Broadcasters opposed this repeal because of the program's dramatic and positive impact on increasing ownership of broadcast stations for people of color. The tax certificate has proven to be an effective mechanism for bringing more people of color into station ownership and should be reinstated.

During the 116th Congress, the Expanding Broadcast Ownership Opportunities Act of 2019 was introduced in both the House, by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), and Senate, by Sen. Gary Peters (MI), to bring back the tax certificate. The House version of the bill advanced through the Energy and Commerce Committee and was approved unanimously by voice vote last September but did not receive further consideration by the whole House. Reinstating the Tax Certificate Program at the FCC would encourage investment in broadcast station ownership for women and people of color and dramatically help underrepresented voices realize their dreams of radio and television station ownership.

In addition to NAB's support, the Expanding Broadcast Ownership Opportunities Act has the backing of the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB).

The bottom line:

Congress should pass legislation reinstating the tax certificate to ensure owners of broadcast stations are as diverse as the communities they serve.

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