Internet Tax Bill Could Kill Public Access TV

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.

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