In a move Congress has routinely rejected, President Bush’s new budget, unveiled Monday, took another run at taxing TV stations that continue to transmit analog signals.
The $2.57 trillion spending plan calls on Congress to authorize the Federal Communications Commission to impose an analog “lease fee” of $500 million in 2007 “to encourage the digital transition” by the country’s 1,366 commercial stations.
The White House revived the analog-spectrum tax even though Congress has shown no appetite to collect more revenue from TV stations than various fees they need to pay the FCC.
“Applying a spectrum tax on local TV stations would slow the DTV transition and ultimately harm consumers who rely on over-the-air broadcasting for news, entertainment and public-interest programming,” the National Association of Broadcasters said in a prepared statement Monday.
The federal government is eager for the return of the analog spectrum so that it can allocate airwaves to public-safety groups and auction the rest to wireless-broadband providers for billions of dollars.