Several organizations that push for diversity and civil rights are urging Congress to reinstate the minority tax certificate program.
“Supporting these pieces of legislation would eliminate barriers and create new opportunities for women, people of color and socially disadvantaged individuals to own local TV and radio stations,” they wrote to congressional leaders.
The letter supports H.R. 4871, the Expanding Broadcast Opportunities Act of 2021 introduced by Reps. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Steven Horsford of Nevada, and S. 2456, the Broadcast VOICES Act, introduced by Sens. Gary Peters of Michigan and Robert Menendez of New Jersey. All four are Democrats. Menendez has been pushing for reinstatement since at least 2008, when he introduced a similar bill.
The bills would authorize the Federal Communications Commission to reestablish what would now be called a Diversity Tax Certificate Program.
Individuals who donated broadcast stations for the purpose of training socially disadvantaged individuals in the management and operation of stations would be eligible for a tax credit equal to the fair market value of the station.
The joint letter is from the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the National Urban League, United States Black Chambers, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Hispanic Federation.
“From 1978 to 1995, when the diversity tax certificate was instituted, it was an effective mechanism for bringing more people of color into station ownership,” they wrote.
“During this time, broadcast ownership by people of color increased by more than 550%. The elimination of the diversity tax certificate in 1995 disproportionately affected that rate. According to data from 2017, women make up less than 6% of broadcast TV station owners, and people of color account for less than 3%. Similarly, women own just 7% of broadcast radio stations, and people of color own less than 3%.”