Spectrum tax could be DOA

It looks like the nation’s terrestrial broadcasters may escape paying a tax on the publicly owned spectrum that they use at no charge for over-the-air broadcasting.

During a question and answer session at last week’s NAB leadership conference, an influential Republican lawmaker contended the tax is “dead on arrival” in the current Congress. “I don’t see that happening,“ said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who chairs the Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee in the House.

The tax was proposed last month by President Bush in his fiscal-2004 budget and is designed to penalize broadcasters who fail to make the DTV transition deadline. During this period after the deadline passes, the remaining broadcasters will occupy two spectrum sets, thus prohibiting the government from selling the analog spectrum at auction.

The tax proposal states that TV stations will begin paying for their analog spectrum in 2007, a year after the DTV deadline. Under the bill, stations could pay the government as much as $500 million a year. The NAB has successfully lobbied lawmakers previously against such spectrum tax proposals.

For more information visit www.nab.org.

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