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<nettime> Action Alert: help save funding for local media
Michael Weisman on Sat, 20 Sep 2003 13:43:36 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Action Alert: help save funding for local media



Okay, now I know you are asking, Mike how is this going to save local 
media?  The alert below from the very astute Jim Baller is written on 
behalf of his client NATOA (no friend of media, as you can tell).

  HOWEVER, the franchise fees and excise taxes that the bill would wipe 
out are what fund, in large part, our local public access centers, 
institutional networks, local program grant funds, government channels, 
CTCs, ...all of it!  Make no mistake about where this battle is going, 
the cable companies want to cut off the air of local media in every 
way, of every type.  This is an important battle, and it is happening 
now.

For the final victory over the cable and media giants, we will need 
every activist to pull together.  Hopefully, we can eventually get our 
friends at NATOA to be more supportive of local media, but until then, 
we must care for our own media assets and make sure that the funding is 
there when we demand our share of it.  Public access is funded, in 
large part, from franchise fees and other taxes.

Please consider this action alert and pass it on to those interested in 
preserving local media funding......

Mike Weisman
Seattle
"the Hobbits have just left the Shire...."

*******************************

Internet Tax Non-Discrimination Act Bad News for Local Governments – 
Take Action Now to Alert Your Senator
The House of Representatives passed their version of the Internet Tax 
Non-Discrimination Act H.R. 49 despite warnings of severe negative 
impact.  The Senate is poised to vote on S. 150, and holds the only 
hope of protecting local government interests.  Contact your Senators 
today!  Let them hear from local governments!

Language of S. 150 will deprive municipalities of billions of dollars 
in Tax and fee revenue:
•	The Internet Tax Moratorium, originally intended to prevent the 
taxation of Internet transactions, is set to expire on October 31, 
2003, absent Congressional action.  H.R. 49 and S. 150 are the result 
of the desire to extend and expand upon the existing moratoria.  These 
pieces of legislation have been heavily influenced by cable and telecom 
industry lobbyists who have helped expand the definition -- now this 
legislation could exempt all telecommunications providers from local 
government taxes, including franchise fees for cable and telephone.
•	Specifically, H.R. 49 and S. 150 extend the moratorium on Internet 
taxes permanently and expand the ban on Internet access taxes to 
include telecommunications services to the extent “such services are 
used to provide Internet access.”
•	The language of H.R. 49 and the proposed language of S. 150 threatens 
two traditional, yet separate and distinct, municipal powers –
o	the ability to impose telecommunications taxes or to apply local 
utility taxes to the provision of telecommunications services and,
o	the ability of local governments to impose franchise fees as “rent” 
for use of public rights-of-way on companies, such as 
telecommunications and cable service providers that use public property 
for private profit.
•	The proposal to make the Internet sales tax moratoria permanent is 
premature.  The stated need – to help e-commerce help the economy – can 
be equally served by simply extending the moratorium.
•	The result of the proposed legislation will be the loss of billions 
of dollars in telecommunications fees and taxes for local governments 
across the country.  With respect to H.R. 49, the Congressional Budget 
Office stated that the bill was an unfunded mandate and will cost state 
and local governments at least $80 to $120 million, and further that 
they “cannot estimate the magnitude of timing of any additional impact 
at this time.”  The Multi-State Tax Commission has indicated that 
losses may be as high as $4 to $8 billion.
What to Do:
Immediately draft a letter to both your Senators and to the members of 
the Senate Commerce Committee.  Demand that your elected members make 
changes to the proposed language to clarify the following two items:
•	That in adopting S. 150 Congress does not intend to interfere with or 
in any way limit the imposition or collection of any municipal 
telecommunications taxes or utility taxes applicable to 
telecommunications, nor with any municipal rights-of-way fees nor gross 
percentage fees collected in lieu of rights-of-way fees.
•	That S. 150 does not preempt the imposition or collection of excise 
taxes of general applicability (including telecommunications and 
utility taxes) on services that employ telecommunications, cellular or 
cable television facilities, even if those services offer access to the 
Internet.
Where Do I Get More Information?:
•	NATOA has collected a sample of letters sent from a variety of 
sources.  You can access these letters on the NATOA Web site, on the 
Policy/Advocacy page.  Be sure to use a sample that best fits your 
state’s and/or local government’s concerns, and be sure to modify them 
for your community’s use.
Visit , Policy/Advocacy Page.

---------------------------
Mike Weisman
please respond to popeye {AT} speakeasy.org

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