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Every State Broadcast Group Is Calling on Congress to Pass “VOICES” Act

The bill, if adopted, would provide tax incentives for minority broadcasters

On Thursday, all 50 state broadcast associations, including those representing broadcasters in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, sent a letter to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell in support of the “Broadcast VOICES Act.”

The Broadcast Varied Ownership Incentives for Community Expanded Service (VOICES) Act, introduced by Democratic lawmakers last month, would provide a tax incentive to those who sell a majority interest in a radio or TV station to underrepresented broadcasters.

“Our strength is in our ability to cover diverse community experiences and tell stories from an authentic perspective,”  the broadcast associations wrote in the 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.”

Introduced by Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada and Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, the Broadcast VOICES Act would reestablish a diversity tax certificate program to incentivize capital investment in women and minority-owned broadcast stations — as well as investment in the sale of stations to women and minority purchasers — throughout the broadcast industry.

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%, according to the joint letter.

“Fast forward to 2024, diverse ownership in our industry has drastically changed not due to lack of effort or interest, but due to lack of access to capital.”

The broadcast associationssaid, at present, women make up less than 6% of broadcast TV station owners and people of color make up less than 3%. When it comes to broadcast radio station owners, women make up around 7% of owners and people of color make up less than 3%.

The letter concludes with a call to action, urging Congress to pass the bill soon.

“The Broadcast VOICES Act will help with building a pipeline for a new generation of broadcast station owners that is inclusive of women, people of color and other underrepresented individuals.”

[Related: “New Tax Incentive Bill for Minority Broadcasters Draws Praise From NAB“]