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Effort continues on Spectrum Repack funding, timing

-Big wins on Ad Tax, Performance Tax             

As the curtain gradually closes on the 2017 Congressional session, TAB continues to press key members of Congress to address serious concerns about the Spectrum Repack. These include the time frame for the repack and sufficiency of the relocation fund set aside for reimbursing TV and Radio stations that have to change channels or frequencies because of the spectrum auction.

Reps. Bill Flores of Waco and Pete Olson of Sugar Land – both Republicans and Texas’ only members of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee – have been advocating for legislation that ensures no station goes off the air because of circumstances beyond their control and that Congress appropriates additional funds to cover all related costs.

In September, Flores and Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, filed HR 3685, the Radio Consumer Freedom Act of 2017, which would ensure that Radio stations affected by the Spectrum Repack are reimbursed for their relocation expenses. Flores and Olson are pressing for Low-Power TV stations to be reimbursed, as well. Under current law, only full-power TV stations will be reimbursed.

With the clock ticking and most leadership energy being expended on the historic tax cut package under consideration, it’s unclear whether these issues will be addressed in whatever stopgap government funding measure Congress approves before they adjourn for the holidays. If it doesn’t get done in 2017, staffers for Flores and Olson are hopeful it’ll be included in the next spending bill that comes up in 2018.

Big wins on Ad Tax, Performance Tax
These efforts come on the heels of broadcasters’ phenomenal victory in the federal Ad Tax fight, as our advocacy over the past three years – coupled with leadership from the NAB and advocacy from other key groups – persuaded House and Senate leaders against making any change to businesses’ full deduction of advertising costs in the year they’re incurred.

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Conroe, chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, committed to TAB early on that he opposed an Ad Tax, but cautioned about the potential of so many other moving parts to force that issue onto the table. TAB secured the support of seven other Texas members of Congress who co-signed a letter to House leadership opposing an Ad Tax.

Just before a key deadline in October, TAB weighed in with Brady once again with a letter signed by 14 Houston broadcasters re-stating our concerns. A couple weeks later, we added several newspaper publishers’ signatures to that letter.

And just this week, a resolution opposing a Performance Tax on Radio stations blew past 218 co-sponsors – the majority needed to forestall consideration next year of efforts to impose yet another music royalty in addition to the millions of dollars in royalties collectively paid each year by broadcasters to artists through ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and now GMR.

The Local Radio Freedom Act now has 220 co-sponsors and was authored by Texas Reps. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, and Gene Green, D-Houston.

So while there’s always more to do, Texas broadcasters can take pride in the effectiveness of their legislative advocacy and anticipate further progress in the year ahead.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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