Congressman Butterfield Introduces Bill to Support Investment in Minority Broadcast Station Ownership
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman G. K. Butterfield introduced H.R. 3957, the Expanding Broadcast Opportunities Act of 2019. The bill would promote diversity of ownership in the broadcast industry by reestablishing the Minority Tax Certificate Program at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and encourages investment in minority and women owned broadcast stations by expanding the Commissions’ incubator program.
“America is a nation rich in diversity, with a vast array of stories told and untold. Media outlets play a critical role in the messaging and perspectives that are voiced and revealed; and ownership of media broadcast stations should be just as diverse as our nation,” said Congressman Butterfield. Women and racial minorities deserve more than a seat at the table, they deserve equal access to leadership and key decision-making positions in the media, including broadcast station ownership.
“Historically, the number of minority-owned commercial broadcast stations in the United States has been abysmally low, never rising above 3.1%. The alarming lack of racial and gender diversity in media ownership is the result of a history of systematic barriers designed to discriminate and isolate certain minority groups from the media ownership market,” said Butterfield. By providing a tax incentive for broadcast station owners to sell to women and racial minorities; reestablishing the Minority Tax Certificate Program at the FCC through The Expanding Broadcast Opportunities Act will promote diverse voices in the broadcast industry and spur meaningful progress in advancing media ownership in underrepresented communities. We must continue to call for diversity in the broadcast industry, and I look forward to the results of continued support for expansion of viewpoints and equal representation.”
“I applaud Congressman Butterfield’s continued and focused attention on solutions that will create real progress in making sure that our broadcast landscape is more reflective of diverse communities across this country,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, FCC. As I see it, the FCC has not done enough to study our shortcomings in this space or create real opportunities for women and people of color.”
“What we see on our screens says a lot about who we are as individuals, as communities, and as a nation. But currently, our media ownership does not reflect our communities or our values. Women own less than 6 percent of commercial television broadcast stations and barely 3 percent are owned by people of color,” said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC. Fixing the lack of diversity in media ownership has to include access to resources and capital. Congressman Butterfield’s legislation would provide tax incentives to help increase the number women and minority-owned media entities. I’m thankful for his leadership on this important issue.”
“NAB strongly supports legislation introduced today reinstituting the tax certificate, a market-based initiative to increase diversity in the media marketplace,” said Gordon Smith, NAB President and CEO. During its nearly two decades of existence, this program helped underrepresented voices realize their dreams of radio and television station ownership. We applaud Rep. Butterfield for his leadership on this issue and will work with all stakeholders towards achieving its passage.”
Jim Winston, President of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) said, “NABOB has been seeking restoration of the tax certificate program ever since it was eliminated by Congress. The tax certificate policy helped significantly increase minority broadcast station ownership from 1978 to 1995. We are very grateful to Congressman Butterfield for taking the first step toward its restoration. We look forward to working with him, other members of Congress, and other industry organizations to obtain passage of this very important legislation.”
In 1978, the FCC established the Minority Tax Certificate Program, providing a tax incentive to those who sold their majority interest in a broadcast station to minorities. Though repealed in 1995, the tax certificate boosted minority ownership significantly, raising the number of minority owned stations from 40 to 323.
H.R. 3957, the Expanding Broadcast Opportunities Act would reinstate the tax certificate program at the FCC, creating a pipeline for minority ownership in the broadcast industry by incentivizing sales to minority purchasers and encouraging investment of capital in minority owned stations. Moreover, the bill directs the FCC to study and report to Congress on the nexus between diversity of ownership and diversity of viewpoints. It also requires the Commission to make recommendations to Congress on how best to increase the number of minority and women owned broadcast stations going forward.
Full text of the bill can be found here.
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