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08 August 2008

Menendez supports bill calling for diversity in media

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-Hoboken, is supporting diversity in media ownership with new legislation to restore the tax certificate policy for sales of telecommunications properties to socially disadvantaged businesses, or SDBs. The tax certificates policy will mean newfound opportunities for America’s socially disadvantaged broadcasters and encourage investment in their companies.

It would encourage diversity of voices in the nation’s media outlets, and enhance competition by enabling SDBs to unlock their full entrepreneurial, managerial and creative potential.  Sen. Menendez’s bill would provide $350 million in tax certificates for use over a six year period to qualified SDBs to use as incentives for corporations to sell telecom properties to them.

“This is a very effective way to promote diversity of voices and increase competition in the telecommunications industry. I support diversity in media ownership because it provides a window into communities, languages, views, and values that might not otherwise be heard without these outlets,” Menendez said. “Unfortunately, we see major news outlets airing too many sensationalist stories on outlandish topics, such as immigrants with leprosy, black street gangs or Mexican plots to re-conquer the United States. Americans should be able to flip to stations where we can hear about Asian-American CEOs revolutionizing their industries, African-American doctors saving lives, and Hispanic soldiers, many of whom are not yet citizens, bravely fighting overseas under the flag of the country they’re proud to call their own.”

Menendez added, “When we talk about minority-run outlets, we’re not just talking about broadcasters, we’re talking about advocates—advocates our communities depend on.”

Despite comprising more than a third of the U.S. population, and despite owning almost 1-in-5 businesses in the U.S., the proportion of radio stations minorities own is less than 1-in-12. For television stations, that number falls to 1-in-33.

The bill encourages large corporations to sell properties to smaller ones by providing $350 million in tax certificates for use over a six year period to SDBs certified by the FCC.

These certificates can be used by the eligible seller to either defer the portion of capital gains covered by the certificate for three years or to reduce the basis of any property already held by the seller or purchased within one year after the transaction by that amount.


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