Senator proposes nonprofit status to save some failing newspapers

March 25, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Among the many failing industries today are U.S. newspapers, hurt though perhaps more by the popularity of the internet then the economic downturn. In recent months, the the San Francisco Chronicle, Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the Baltimore Examiner have ceased daily publication or announced that they may have to stop publishing.

A Democratic senator announced on Tuesday that he wants to do something about it. Senator Benjamin Cardin has introduced a bill the Newspaper Revitalization Act, to help newspaper companies and certain media chains to restructure as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code 501(c)(3), with a variety of tax breaks, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies and educational entities.  So far the new bill appears to have met a luke warm response by congress and no one has stepped up to co-sponsor the bill, yet.

Under this legislation, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns.   Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt, and contributions to support news coverage or operations could be tax deductible.  The only catch would be papers would be prohibited from making political endorsements. The proposal doesn’t apply to radio or other media. The bill was submitted to the Senate Finance Committee and doesn’t yet have a hearing date.


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