There is renewed federal-level interest in the free press and preserving local news nationwide. Earlier this week, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to pass the Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying Act, or the PRESS Act. And today, the Community News and Small Business Support Act (H.R.4756) was introduced by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) and co-sponsor Suzan DelBene (D-WA).
Some of the language here will be familiar to news publishers who followed along as the former Congressional class considered the Local Journalism Sustainability Act (LJSA).
The proposed legislation takes a two-pronged tax-credit approach aimed at strengthening local newsrooms around the country and supporting small businesses that advertise with them.
H.R.4756 would provide payroll tax credits to news media publishers who employ fewer than 750 — a legislative line in the sand that advocates suggest will exclude large national media companies and focus this legislative keenly on local and community news producers. To be eligible, news outlets must create original content that serves the needs of a regional or local community; they must have at least one local journalist on staff; and they cannot be owned or funded by a Political Action Committee (PAC) or 501c4.
Eligible news organizations may apply for a tax credit of up to $25,000 per local journalist in the first year and up to $15,000 in the following four years.
Small businesses that advertise with local news outlets, including print, digital, radio and broadcast news — would be eligible for tax credits, as well — up to $5,000 in the bill’s first year and up to $2,500 in the subsequent four years.
The bill imposes some restrictions on small businesses that qualify. They must be a business of fewer than 50 employees, and they must be advertising with a news outlet with at least one local reporter on staff (and no more than 750 employees total); and in the case of TV and radio, they must be FCC licensed.
The Community News and Small Business Support Act has the endorsement of more than a dozen state press associations, America’s Newspapers, The NewsGuild-CWA, Rebuild Local News, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, The American Journalism Project, The National Association of Hispanic Publications, The Afro-American Newspapers, PEN America and a growing list of news media publishers.
“This is a developing story. For ongoing coverage and industry reaction, check back here.
Gretchen A. Peck is a contributing editor to Editor & Publisher. She’s reported for E&P since 2010 and welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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