The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would eliminate local cable TV franchise fees, effectively killing the major source of funding for public access broadcasting.
In the version of the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act the Senate is currently considering, cyber-commerce lobbies have managed to convince Congress to exempt entire industries from state and local taxes. The original wording of the bill was intended to provide a short-term moratorium on taxation of Internet transactions with a projected goal of fast growth in the industry. That growth has already taken place, noted a recent L.A. Times editorial, which pointed out that almost half of Americans already have broadband or dial-up Internet.
But lobbyists have helped expand the definition of the bill, reports the Alliance for Community Media. 'This legislation could exempt all telecommunications providers from local government taxes, including franchise fees for cable and telephone.' The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation could cost at least $80 million to $120 million, while the Multistate Tax Commission has project that the 'additional impact' of the bill could amount to as much as $9 billion in costs to state and local governments.