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Broadcasters could face new taxes

Look out television broadcasters. You’re about to be hit with tens of millions of dollars in new “license” fees. Faced with pretending to fund his whopping $1,700,000,000,000 budget, (that’s $1.7 trillion dollars for the zeros-challenged), the president is apparently looking under every rock and in every spidey hole for ways to levy new taxes. According to a recent Reuters story, the administration is proposing to impose “spectrum license fees” on the unlucky winners of the former broadcast spectrum.

After wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T spent almost $20 billion to acquire the spectrum, they could now be looking at paying up to another $550 million per year to “use” that spectrum. Wouldn’t it just frost your backside to pay out $20 billion for something only to find it has a hidden 2.75 percent yearly tax you’ll have to pass on to your customers?

Okay, so maybe you think that’s all right. After all, it’s the “public’s” spectrum isn’t it? Make 'em pay to use it right?

But hold off, isn’t that what’s also said about TV channels? Simple logic says that if the government wants one spectrum winner to pay for usage, other users may as well get out their checkbooks because their tax bill is in the mail.

Certainly the wireless companies will protest any attempt to add taxes to their usage of the spectrum, but with Democrats controlling Congress, protests are likely to fall on deaf ears. After all, the folks responsible for creating such huge budgets have to make it appear balanced, even if it’s a lie.

Broadcasters should be ever keen for signs that the tax man is sprouting in our backyards and apply preventative solutions immediately. We may not care about the folks at Verizon and AT&T for competitive reasons, but if the former get whacked with new taxes, can our tax bill be far behind?

Tell me what you think.