State Dems Sponsor Propose a “Tax Break” For Newspapers…Why?
Given the signs of the times, this is a curious bill indeed. It's Senate Bill (SB) 5541.
FIVE STATE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS MOVE TO EXEMPT NEWSPAPERS FROM BUSINESS AND OCCUPATION TAX
Perhaps they never met a newspaper they didn't like. The bill's sponsors are five staunchly liberal-leaning Democrats who propose newspapers who operate within our state be exempted from paying the often-dreaded Business and Occupation Tax.
WHAT IS THE B & O TAX?
The B & O Tax is levied upon the manufactured value of your products or by-products, In our state, it's 0.484 percent of your gross receipts. Those are receipts or profits before you deduct expenditures.
With traditional newspaper subscription rates plummeting over the last decade (some say even longer) most papers are scrambling to enhance and build digital platforms and finding ways to monetize them.
Newspapers have fallen on hard times, as other media (radio, TV and especially digital platforms) have eroded their base dramatically. The state's largest paper, the Seattle Times, has seen the traditional print paper drop dramatically but has been able to offset it somewhat with digital. Same for a number of other papers across the state.
The Herald years ago stopped publishing locally and moved that role to Yakima, and in the recent past sold their building to help their bottom line.
WHY EXTEND THIS TO NEWSPAPERS ONLY?
NOT that other media are looking for "handouts," but it's very curious that this bill is being proposed. However, one must examine the political and societal climate that exists now and has for at least the last few years.
It's no secret that many papers are owned by larger national entities. For example, McClatchy owns the Bellingham Herald, The Olympian (Olympia) the Tacoma News-Tribune, and the Tri-City Herald. A glimpse at these four finds very similar, (if not the same) editorial and national news content.
Many conservative leaders and citizens view newspapers are liberal or left-leaning, and with the growing glut of national corporate ownership, they don't reflect their regional or local views.
The Seattle Times, for example, was blasted by a number of online media outlets as well as some radio stations for not taking a stronger role in questioning Gov. Inslee and state officials about the debacle known as CHOP.
In listening to Inslee's press conferences, the Times reporter (as well as other newspaper reporters) tend to go rather easy on Inslee and other state officials.
It could be these legislators believe they're doing their 'part' to help offset costs for struggling newspapers because cities need their 'local' news source. But it would be a surprise at all if this is a token 'favor' for one brand of media that has not gone against these legislators' policies for a number of years.
Perhaps cynical, but when you're in the 'biz' as we have been for years, we notice things and learn fast. It will be interesting to see how this one fares in the legislature.
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