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McCain Proposes Band-Aid for Radio
By Eric de Fontenay (Founder & Publisher)
(more articles from this author)
2003-02-05
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Did I refer to Senator McCain as a maverick in my January 30th editorial? Wishful thinking I guess!

Specifically referring to the media ownership hearings he chaired in the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation last week, Sen. McCain introduced the Telecommunications Ownership Diversity Act of 2003. Aimed at tackling "small minority-owned businesses experience when trying to raise the capital necessary to enter this business," the bill would provide tax incentives to companies that sell telecommunications' assets to selected small businesses as well as investors in those companies.

"Transactions in the telecommunications industry are routinely valued in the billions of dollars. Even radio, which has traditionally been a comparatively easier telecom segment to enter, has been priced out of the range of most would-be entrants.

"... [the bill] does ensure that certain small businesses are on equal footing with large companies"

And a change in the tax code is supposed to remedy this situation? Place small business on the same footing as the Clear Channels & Emmis' of the world? While the tax deferral on the sell of assets should represent a non-negligeable bonus for favoring minority and women-owned small businesses, it is not likely to have little impact on minority ownership rates of 3.8%, despite representing an estimated 29% of the total Unites States population.

Worst of all, the legislation may send the wrong message to the FCC. McCain appears to set up a 'escape hatch' for FCC Chairman Powell to back out of supporting present ownership restrictions by nothing that "while it is important to discuss the relative merits of ownership restrictions, we also must consider market-based, voluntary methods of facilitating entry and diversity of ownership." In other words, voluntary (ie., weak) rules and token measures could act as an alternative to ownership restrictions.

Chairman Powell seemed to get the hint, remarking that it was "time to seek positive ways to promote opportunity while avoiding some of the problems of past programs," past programs being those same ownership restrictions.

Related News from Mi2N:
» McCain Bill Diversifies Ownership In Telecommunications Industry
» Statement Of FCC Chairman Michael Powell On Senator McCain's Telecommunications Ownership Diversification Initiative
» Statement From NAB President And CEO Edward O. Fritts On Sen. Mccain Bill Creating Tax Incentives For Broadcast Ownership Diversity


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