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Peters Reintroduces Legislation to Increase Diversity of Ownership in Broadcast Industry

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) has reintroduced legislation to increase diversity of ownership among women and minorities in the broadcasting industry. 

“Broadcasters play an essential role in connecting our communities and elevating the unique perspectives of Americans throughout our country. It’s important that we have a broad range of voices and leaders in the industry,” said Senator Peters.“I’m proud to again lead this bill to encourage more investment in minority-owned stations and boost diversity in American television and radio.” 

Peters’ Broadcast Varied Ownership Incentives for Community Expanded Service (VOICES) Act would reestablish a Minority Tax Certificate Program to incentivize capital investment in women and minority-owned stations, as well as investment in the sale of stations to women and minority purchasers, throughout the broadcast industry. The bill would also establish a tax credit for broadcast owners who donate their stations to train individuals in the management and operation of broadcaststations, and require annual reports from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on ways to increase diversity in the industry.

The Broadcast VOICES Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Ben Cardin (D-MD). Companion legislation was introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Steven Horsford (D-NV-4).

First established in 1978, the Minority Tax Certificate Program provided a tax incentive to those who sold their majority interest in a broadcast station to diverse individuals. From 1978 to 1995, the program was highly effective in leveling the playing field for underrepresented broadcasters, increasing diverse ownership in broadcast stations by more than 550 percent. Despite this success, Congress repealed the program in 1995.

However, a 2021 report found that among the approximately 1,760 full-power commercial broadcast television stations in the United States, less than 6 percent were owned by women and less than 4 percent were minority-owned. It found that among commercial radio stations, women owned only 9 percent of FM broadcast radio stations, and minorities owned less than 3 percent of those stations. By reinstating this historically effective tax certificate, the Broadcast VOICES Act would help bring more women and people of color into station ownership while also assisting with the access to capital.

The Broadcast VOICES Act is supported by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, National Urban League, National Association of Broadcasters, National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council, League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Hispanic Federation.