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Senate Measure Offers Tax Incentives for Local News Media

- Focus on Journalist Retention, Tax Credit for Ad Buys

New legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate this month would establish tax incentives that would provide much-needed relief for local newsrooms.

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act would create a targeted tax credit for the hiring and retention of local journalists, as well as a tax credit for businesses to advertise with local broadcast Radio and TV stations and newspapers.

By providing a tax credit for the hiring and retention of local journalists, as well as giving small businesses a credit for a portion of their advertising costs on local media, the measure would help stabilize local newsrooms as they face the economic impact of advertising dollars going to massive technology platforms, and the pandemic’s blow to local businesses that don’t have the resources to advertise with local media.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, is leading the effort in partnership with Sen. Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee. 

Cantwell represents the state of Washington and Wyden represents Oregon.  Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona is also taking a prominent role in advancing the bill.  All are Democrats. 

Companion legislation in the House is pending.

The measure reflects the lawmakers’ appreciation for local broadcast journalists and newspaper reporters who are on the ground covering the news that impacts every community, including lifesaving information during times of crisis and investigative stories that shine a light on government and hold those in power accountable.

It recognizes that local broadcast stations provide these critical services for free, over the air, to their communities and are the most trusted source of news and reporting in the country. The costly sourcing, reporting and production of this news, which can account for as much as a third or even half of their expenses.

While much of a local media outlet’s budget comes from local advertising revenue, many of those dollars are being diverted to and consumed by a handful of massive online technology platforms that do not provide any of the critical local news reporting that Americans depend upon and, instead, provide untrustworthy platforms where misinformation runs rampant.

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

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