In late December, NAB Executive Vice President of Government Relations Shawn Donilon shared the following update on the year-end omnibus appropriations package and outlines it affects broadcasters.

“While numerous NAB priorities were deliberated for inclusion up to the final hours of these legislative negotiations, I want to provide an update on three below that were the most significant.  

Performance Tax

I am very proud of the work that broadcasters did to extinguish the late threat of a performance tax in this year-end process. As identified at the start of the Congress, a Democrat-aligned Washington and sympathy from a number of key Congressional leaders gave rise to the most oxygen for – and sustained push from – the recording industry in over a decade on this issue. Performance tax proponents Rep. Jerry Nadler, Chair of House Judiciary, and Sen. Marsha Blackburn carried real water in raising the American Music Fairness Act as a potential year-end rider. The House Republicans absence from the negotiating table on the overall omnibus diluted the objections of House Judiciary Ranking Member Jim Jordan and gave disproportionate weight to the recording industry’s judiciary committee champions. While we were fighting this in the trenches in DC, we were grateful for the quick activation of so many state associations, individual broadcasters, and key third-party partners in conveying ongoing opposition to this harmful proposal that ultimately killed any momentum for its inclusion. We are also grateful for those groups whose stations ran the on-air spots that generated nearly 75,000 legislator contacts opposing the performance tax.


JCPA/ Big Tech

Unfortunately, despite a major push that nearly secured the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) in the recently negotiated defense authorization legislation two weeks ago, neither the JCPA nor other major legislation fighting against Big Tech made it into the omnibus. With the support of the bill authors and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer leading the charge, the JCPA had been agreed to by all four corners of Congressional leadership earlier this month, only for larger policy riders to fall out of the defense package at the last minute due to broader political dynamics. It was in this context that we saw Big Tech really activate against the JCPA with its full arsenal, including Facebook issuing a threat to block all news content from its platform if the JCPA were to be enacted. Rather than amplifying this noise and fueling open controversy, NAB worked with many of you and our grassroots to continue to marshal our supporters in an effort to outnumber the substantive opposition of a handful of Senate Republicans and that of House Judiciary Ranking Member Jordan. In the end, however, the JCPA – like the self-preferencing and app store antitrust bills – became too hot to handle for Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in the omnibus just as it was in the defense authorization context. While short of enactment, there is no doubt we got the tech platforms’ attention and built capital for broadcasters with key policymakers as we pushed the JCPA further than these other big tech bills that we viewed as potential vehicles to carry the JCPA just a few months ago.


Privacy Legislation

We are also pleased to report that a number of privacy-related provisions that could have negatively impacted broadcasters and our affiliated online offerings were rejected after serious consideration and threat of inclusion. With the broader effort to achieve comprehensive federal privacy legislation having stalled out, more focused efforts – Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and a proposed update and extension of the existing Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) – quickly arose at the 11th hour to receive serious consideration after clearing the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this year. While well-intentioned, KOSA’s overly broad definition of “video streaming services”, and proposed changes to COPPA that would have extended its existing regulatory framework to sites or services directed to children under 18 years of age (rather than 13 years) and prohibited targeted advertising posed particular implementation concerns for broadcasters. NAB engaged with key offices to register our concerns with the practical application of these proposals in causing broadcasters significant new compliance costs and measures that would undermine our investment in journalism and service to our local communities by significantly impacting general audience news websites and offerings.


Other Issues

In spite of significant efforts on the part of our bill leads, legislation to provide journalism tax credits (Local Journalism Sustainability Act), cannabis advertising, and a targeted bill to create a new Class A window (Low Power Protection Act) were each left on the outside looking in due to lack of consensus around separate but related issues, notably the lack of agreement around a broader tax title, the SAFE Banking Act, and a telecom package, respectively. These will continue to be a focus of NAB’s advocacy going forward.”