Chris Brumbles’ Trigger Warning
with Special Guests Rep. Mike Nearman, Shari Dovale & Larry Ericksen
Reports from behind the Wire, defying the propaganda of the Marxist Curtain styling itself as social democracy, this is your Trigger Warning.
Central Assessment Talking Points
- In 2014, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld the Oregon Department of Revenue (“DOR”) central assessment of Comcast as “data transmission services” under Section 308.505(3) of Oregon statutes. In late 2020, the DOR stretched the definition of “data transmission services” to cover radio and television stations which would add an enterprise valuation tax on Oregon TV and radio broadcasters. The legislature never intended broadcasters to be centrally assessed.
The DOR’s central assessment model is based on enterprise value and requires valuation of intangible assets, even though each broadcaster’s most valuable intangible assets – FCC licenses – are exempt from assessment under Section 308.671 of the Oregon statutes. See https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/308.671.
The DOR is unable to illustrate the impact of this additional tax. However, the valuation must include exempt assets and can only add broadcasters tax liability at the state level. This additional tax will result in job loss across the board as broadcasters will be forced to cut investments in payroll and community outreach efforts to fund this additional tax. This tax will have an adverse impact on the communities which broadcasters serve.
The Covid-19 pandemic has decimated the broadcast industry. But even during these trying financial times, the state of Oregon and the federal government have received immeasurable value from local broadcasters who have continued to inform our communities on COVID-19, rampant wildfire destruction, Census collection, hectic election coverage and other essential community information. Broadcasters continue to put the safety and education of our communities first.
Ad revenues are the most significant source of income for broadcasters. Unlike cable and satellite companies, broadcasters do not benefit from a subscription-based revenue stream. Ad revenue has plummeted due to shutdowns, even as we help our communities understand and adhere to shut-down regulations. At this point there is NO recovery in sight. Local advertisers have either closed or can no longer afford to advertise. This additional tax burden is not only financially insurmountable but constitutes a lack of recognition of the free airtime provided to local, state, and federal governments.
In the Comcast decision, Oregon’s Supreme Court ruled that data transmission services, which are centrally assessed, provide the means to send data from one computer or computer-like device to another across a transmission network. While DOR has determined that over-the-air broadcasters are included in this definition, reasonable legal minds would disagree. DOR’s interpretation of the law shows a wholesale misunderstand of the broadcast business.
Bottom line: A unilateral change in how over-the-air broadcasters is assessed based on the DOR’s legal interpretation and regulatory overreach will have a far-reaching negative impact on broadcasters throughout Oregon, putting the survival of some of them in doubt.
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