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Broadcast Associations Call on Congress to Reinstate Tax Credit

Congress considering two new pieces of legislation designed to boost diversity in broadcast station ownership

Broadcast associations around the country are showing their support for legislation designed to boost broadcast ownership by women and people of color.

Broadcast associations from all 50 states along with the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, sent a joint letter asking Congress to support and pass two new diversity tax certificate programs. The legislation is designed to provide a tax incentive to individuals who sell their majority interest in TV and radio broadcast stations to people of color and women. Two pieces of legislation — Expanding Broadcast Opportunities Act of 2021 (H.R. 4871) and the Broadcast Varied Ownership Incentives for Community Expanded Service Act known as Broadcast VOICES Act (S. 2456) — would authorize the Federal Communications Commission to reinstate a diversity tax certificate program.

Similar legislation was in existence from 1978 to 1995 called the Minority Tax Certificate program. During that time, TV and radio broadcast station ownership by people of color increased by more than 550%. Today, however, there exists a dearth of diverse ownership in the broadcast industry due primarily to lack of access to capital, the groups said in their letter. Today, women make up less than 7% of broadcast radio ownership while people of color make up less than 3%.

“Our strength [as broadcasters] is in our ability to cover diverse community experiences and tell stories from an authentic perspective,” the undersigned wrote in their letter. “The tax certificate program will help us build a local media landscape that reflects our communities on the air, both in the control booth and boardroom.”

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The associations also noted that the Expanding Broadcast Ownership Opportunities Act of 2021 and the Broadcast VOICES Act will help to build a pipeline for a new generation of broadcast station owners — one that is inclusive of women, people of color and other underrepresented individuals. “We therefore urge Congress to act swiftly and pass H.R. 4871 and S. 2456 to make sure that all voices are accurately represented in the broadcasting industry,” the associations said.

The legislation also has support from the National Association of Broadcasters. Earlier this month the NAB released a statement expressing its commitment to market-based initiatives that expand radio and TV station ownership opportunities for women and people of color, calling a tax incentive program a “proven solution that significantly diversified the ranks for broadcast owners over its nearly two decades of existence.”

The support comes after the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council called on the FCC in early August to adopt seven new initiatives designed to better advance diversity within the media industry. The MMTC called the 1978–1995 tax certificate policy “by far the most effective vehicle for advancing minority broadcast ownership.”