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An Open Letter to the New York Legislature: Oppose Taxes on Satellite TV Subscribers!

March 7, 2013

Dear Legislator:

On behalf of the nearly 18,000 members of National Taxpayers Union in New York, I urge you to oppose the Multichannel Video Programming Distributor Competition Act, which would impose new taxes on satellite TV subscribers. 

As the national economy continues to slowly recover from the recession, this is a particularly bad time to raise taxes on New York families. Heaping $50 to $100 million of new taxes onto the backs of satellite TV customers would exacerbate the economic woes of many families who are already struggling to make ends meet.

Some argue that because of existing “franchise fees” on the cable industry, a levy on satellite service is necessary to level the playing field between the two modes of television delivery. This is far from true.  While not necessarily ideal in practice, the intent of these fees, which are currently shouldered by the cable industry, is to pay municipalities for the use of public land and other property.  Given that satellite TV service delivery does not require the use of such property, taxing satellite subscribers would be fundamentally unfair. Similarly, the cable industry does not have to pay the government to use federally owned spectrum, as satellite companies do. Television providers all bear certain government burdens depending upon their business models, and policy makers should be working to lighten those burdens across the board.

Our members hope you will reject new taxes on New Yorkers, including the proposed tax on satellite TV subscribers.

Brandon Arnold
Vice President of Government Affairs

cc: Governor Andrew Cuomo