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Radio Legislative and Regulatory Issues

Prevent Harmful Changes to Advertising Tax Treatment

Congress should not pass legislation that hurts free, local broadcasting by modifying the tax laws to make advertising more expensive for businesses. Advertising is currently treated as an ordinary and necessary business expense - just like salaries, rent and utilities - under the U.S. tax code. This means a business can fully deduct the expense in the year it was incurred. Some in Congress have suggested changing the tax treatment of advertising for specific types of products, such as pharmaceuticals. This change would have a devastating impact on listeners and viewers of local radio and television stations that rely on advertising revenue to survive, raises significant First Amendment concerns and ignores the important consumer benefits that advertising provides.

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A Performance Tax Threatens Local Jobs

During the past two Congresses, some members of Congress, at the behest of the big record labels, introduced a bill to impose a performance tax on local radio broadcasters. The Performance Rights Act would have imposed a devastating new fee on local stations simply for airing music on the radio – airing the music that provides free promotion to the labels and artists. A new performance fee could financially cripple local radio stations putting jobs at risk, stifle new artists trying to break into the recording business and harm the listening public who rely on local radio.

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Encourage Diversity in Broadcasting: Reinstate the Tax Certificate Program

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has consistently promoted initiatives aimed at improving diversity in broadcasting and creating new opportunities for women, people of color and other underrepresented communities. But the most impactful program to expand diversity in broadcast ownership - the Minority 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 such as women and people of color.

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Retain the Public's Access to Programming Delivered Through Unique Spectrum Bands

In addition to their primary spectrum assignments for over-the-air transmissions, TV and radio broadcasters use additional spectrum in both the C-band and the 6 GHz band every day to transmit and receive critical, live content for their broadcasts. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering changes to the use of these spectrum bands to allow for new services, which could impact the programming listeners and viewers rely upon.

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Expand Access to Emergency Information: Unlock FM

Virtually all smartphones are manufactured with hardware capable of receiving free FM radio signals, but not all phones have this feature activated, either by choice of the phone’s manufacturer or the wireless carrier. However, Apple has not activated this feature on any of its iPhones, preventing their customers from saving battery life and data charges, while also blocking access to a critical lifeline during times of emergency.

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Ensure that Media Ownership Rules Reflect the Competitive Marketplace

The internet has transformed the media marketplace, yet TV and radio broadcasters are still subject to outdated rules restricting the number and type of outlets they may own. Policymakers should support the continued modernization of these rules to account for the rise, and increasing influence, of digital media.

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Music Licensing Consent Decrees Prevent Marketplace Chaos

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently completed a review of the critically important antitrust consent decrees that underpin the music licensing marketplace. The DOJ decided to leave the decrees intact, without modifications. Television and radio broadcasters applaud this action, as modification or termination of the decrees would upset the balance Congress strived to achieve in the 2018 Music Modernization Act (MMA).

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