Bill Would Use Tax Breaks to Boost Local Journalism

Capitol Building

A group of senators has introduced the Local Journalism Sustainability Act of 2021, which would provide tax credits for hiring more journalists, for people subscribing to media outlets, and for small businesses that will support local media with advertising dollars.

The goal is to "revive and sustain trusted local media," in which broadcast TV and radio play a central role. The credits go to support local newspapers, digital news operations, TV and radio.

Also Read: House Majority Favors Fed Ad Dollars for Local Media

Introducing the bill were Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, along with Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

“The COVID-19 pandemic made it crystal clear that local reporters and newsrooms are essential to keeping the public informed and safe, but their importance spans well beyond health emergencies,” said Cantwell. “At its core, local news is about holding the powerful accountable. The strength of our democracy is based in truth and transparency, and local newsrooms are on the ground in our communities asking the critical questions, countering misinformation, and telling our stories. We have to protect these vital parts of our communities, because once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

The bill comes as Washington grapples with widespread misinformation about vaccines and alleged election fraud, deep fakes, and fake news.

“NAB applauds the introduction of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which would support and enable hiring additional local journalists for broadcast newsrooms," said association president, Gordon Smith. "At a time when misinformation and disinformation plague online platforms, broadcast radio and television continue to serve as reliable beacons of news that keep local communities informed and connected. We appreciate Sens. Cantwell, Wyden and Kelly’s leadership in ensuring a vibrant future for local journalism and we urge congressional passage of this legislation.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.