Legislature carves out tax break for radio, TV broadcasters


By Ryan Ekvall | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — Just in time for election season, the Legislature has given the broadcasters of all those enlightening political ads a $2.2 million tax break.

By a large bipartisan vote in both the Assembly and Senate, the Legislature granted radio and TV station owners a sales tax exemption on purchases of machinery, supplies, equipment, fuel and electricity.

GIMME A BREAK: Over-the-air broadcasters are looking forward to a $2.2 million tax break.

Yes, and on those satellites beaming those vicious attacks ads into our homes every night for the next seven months.

Gov. Scott Walker is expected to sign the bill.

While the $2.2 million windfall for broadcasters decreases revenue for local governments, the tax break is also about creating a “level playing field” for an “economic engine” that is broadcasting, according to Michelle Vetterkind, lobbyist and president of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

“Newspapers, which are our primary competitors for advertising revenue, already had such an exemption on their equipment,” Vetterkind testified to lawmakers.

The industry originally asked for an additional property tax exemption, but several state lawmakers balked at the prospect of transferring that tax burden to home owners.

“Election season has turned into Black Friday for broadcasters,” Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation, which fights for transparency in elections, told Rolling Stone. “It’s just a huge bonanza.”

Contact Ryan Ekvall at rekvall@watchdog.org, 608-257-1382 or follow him on Twitter @Nockian.