Cable TV tax cut falters in Utah Senate

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The Utah Senate rejected a bill Tuesday that would have given a small break to cable TV customers and put cable and satellite subscribers on the same footing.

Satellite companies have been exempted by Congress from paying local franchise fees. Cable companies have not, meaning cable subscribers pay an additional fee of about $3 or $4 a month to their city or town.

SB112, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, would provide a rebate to those customers to offset the tax. But it would have cost the state $6.7 million a year to offset the tax cut without taking the money from local governments.

"This pretty much negates the tax we collect on other [sales]," said Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City. "Then it goes to one more issue and that is the fact that we don't have the $6.7 million to fund it anyway."

The bill failed in a 16-12 vote. Niederhauser said he may see if there is a way to win enough support to revive the bill later this session.

Comcast, the state's largest cable company, contributed nearly $60,000 to legislators' campaign accounts last year. The Utah Cable Telecommunications Association gave another $15,500 to lawmakers.