A bipartisan group of policymakers in the House of Representatives on July 16 introduced H.R. 7640, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which, if enacted, would provide a series of tax credits for news consumers, news organizations and local newspaper and broadcast advertisers. Specifically, the legislation provides:
· A non-refundable tax credit for consumers of up to $250 annually to incentivize individual subscriptions to local news organizations. The credit can cover 80 percent of subscription costs in the first year and 50 percent of subscription costs in the subsequent four years.
· A refundable tax credit for local newspapers of up to $25,000 in the first year for each employee or independent contractor who is a qualified journalist, and up to $15,000 in the subsequent four years. If the tax credit is greater than taxes owed, the difference will be refunded to the news organization.
· A non-refundable tax credit for small- to medium-sized businesses to advertise with local newspapers, as well as local radio and television stations. The credit can cover up to $5,000 of advertising costs in the first year and $2,500 in the subsequent four years.
To qualify for the tax credits, a news organization must have 51 percent or more of its audience in a state or single area within a 200-mile radius.
Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) are the lead sponsors of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act and introduced the bill as a response to the disappearance of local news outlets in small market communities and rural areas across the country. Both policymakers had been talking with their local, small market news publishers about legislative avenues to sustain local journalism.
The News Media Alliance supports the legislation and believes it could be a starting point for a broader dialogue on tax incentives in support of journalism. In commenting on the legislation, Alliance President & CEO, David Chavern, said, “The legislation would help ensure local news publishers survive the current crises, and are around to cover the next ones. We applaud the introduction of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which would help sustain to local journalism and prevent the growth of news deserts across the country.”
At introduction, the bill received strong support from 15 members of the House of Representatives from both sides of the aisle. Joining Representatives Kirkpatrick and Newhouse as original co-sponsors are: Reps. Denny Heck (D-WA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), Peter Welch (D-VT), Rodney Davis (R-IL), David McKinley (R-WV), Pete Visclosky (D-IN), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Randy Weber (R-TX), Mark Takano (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN) and Josh Harder (D-CA).
The Alliance is grateful for the leadership shown by all of these representatives. In the weeks ahead, we encourage our member news publishers to educate their own congressional representatives on the challenges facing news organizations and request that they co-sponsor H.R. 7640, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act.
For more information please contact Alliance Senior VP, Public Policy, Paul Boyle.