WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Gary Peter (D-Mich.) today introduced bicameral legislation that aims to increase diversity in ownership of television and radio broadcast stations among women and minorities. The Broadcast Varied Ownership Incentives for Community Expanded Services Act (Broadcast VOICES Act) would reestablish a federal tax certificate program incentivizing diverse ownership of broadcast stations. This would help further promote diversity within the industry. According to a study from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), women currently make up less than six percent of broadcast TV station owners, and minorities account for less than three percent. Similarly, women own just seven percent of broadcast radio stations, and minorities own less than three percent.

“Broadcast media plays a vital role in our society. At a time of rampant disinformation and media consolidation, it’s more important than ever that television and radio station owners represent the diversity of the communities they serve,” said Sen. Menendez. “Our bill will incentivize the selling of broadcast stations to women and minorities by providing a tax benefit and will also help us better understand how women- and minority-ownership directly impacts the viewpoints presented to audiences.”
“The media plays a vital role in keeping Michiganders up-to-date on the news each and every day and important issues affecting our communities, state, and country,” said Sen. Peters. “Encouraging diverse ownership of local TV and radio stations would promote having broadcast ownership that helps reflect the diversity of our communities.”

The Broadcast Voices Act is supported by the National Urban League, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, and the Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council.

“For far too long, broadcast station ownership and management has not represented the vast diversity our nation holds,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial. “We applaud this legislation put forward by Senators Peters and Menendez that will reinstate the successful tax incentive which, for nearly two decades before its removal, quintupled minority ownership and diversity in the broadcast media industry. We are grateful for and will continue to support the senators’ leadership on this issue that will help bring bold conversations to the forefront and empower our communities.”

The Broadcast VOICES Act would:

  Reestablish Minority Tax Certificate Program by amending the Communications Act of 1934 and the Internal Revenue Code to reestablish a tax certificate program which incentivizes investment of capital in women and minority owned stations and sales to women and minority purchasers entering and expanding ownership in the broadcast industry.

  Require Annual Reports from Federal Communications Commission by requiring the FCC to prepare certain reports for Congress, including recommendations about ways to increase the total number of broadcast stations owned or controlled by minority groups or women, on whether to expand the tax certificate program beyond broadcast stations to other FCC-regulated entities, and whether there is a nexus between diversity of ownership and diversity of the viewpoints broadcast by stations. It would also require reporting on the annual sales for which certificates have been issued.

  Establish Tax Credit for Donating Broadcast Stations by making broadcast owners who donate their stations to train individuals new in the management and operation of broadcast stations eligible for a tax credit equal to the fair market value of the station.

 The full text of the bill can be found here.