As we reported last week Governor Cuomo outlined his budget initiatives in his State of the State Address. While New York State has a deficit of about $6 billion, the Governor has not yet proposed any form of advertising tax. This is good news for broadcasters. We are watching this closely.
There are some policy proposals in the budget that could affect broadcasters. As noted last week, many policy issues are now included in the budget process. This gives the Governor significant leverage in passing legislation on issues that he believes are important. The budget is voted on the March/April time period. Here are some of the highlights that could have an impact on broadcasters.
Legalizing Cannabis: Governor Cuomo proposes a comprehensive regulatory approach to legalize cannabis, creating a new Office of Cannabis Management to specialize in cannabis regulation – overseeing the medical, adult-use and hemp programs. To safeguard public health, the proposal limits the sale of cannabis products to adults 21 and over and establishes stringent quality and safety controls including oversight over the packaging, labeling, advertising and testing of all cannabis products. We are following this issue closely to make sure it will not unduly restrict advertising.
Protecting Gig Economy Workers: This year a significant percentage of the workforce will be in jobs related to the new “gig economy.” Governor Cuomo will introduce legislation to make sure all of New York’s workers receive basic employee protections and access to critical safety nets. In effect this means that employers that use “independent contractors” for many jobs will now have to reclassify them as employees. This could have a significant impact on stations, especially those that use free-lance journalists and videographers. A similar law passed in California last year. The National News Press Association and the American Society of Journalists have gone to court to block the new California law. Given the economics of local coverage, we do not want this law to have any adverse impact on radio and TV stations.
Stop Vaping Products from Getting into the Hands of Youth: To protect youth from tobacco products, the Governor will introduce a comprehensive package to: ban the sale of flavored vaping products; ban all vaping-related ads targeted to youth; ban the sale of vaping carrier oils that include chemicals or ingredients that when inhaled through a vaping device are deemed to be dangerous and a significant public health risk; restrict the online, phone and mail order sale of e-liquids and e-cigarettes only to licensed vaping product retailers; end the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products in pharmacies; and legislation to define indoor space and limit second hand smoke exposure.
Ensuring the Strongest Net Neutrality Protections for all New Yorkers: The Governor will introduce legislation to prevent the blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of online content — practices that undermine a free and open internet. The legislation will also prohibit so-called “zero-rating” practices, which penalize consumers for accessing content or applications that are not preferred by their internet provider. Broadcasters generally have not engaged in “net neutrality” issues. Nonetheless, we are watching this bill closely.
The Governor’s budget agenda is outlined in a 300 page book which may be accessed by Clicking HERE.
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