Appearing at the Radio Ink Hispanic Radio Conference Thursday, Senator Marco Rubio told attendees he would not support a new fee or tax on radio, although it was clear he had no idea what the Local Radio Freedom Act was. That’s more good news for radio, one day after NAB CEO Curtis LeGeyt announced at the conference that the NAB was winning its fight against musicFIRST.
Rubio was interviewed by Beasley Media Group Director of Latin Formats, Nio Fernandez. Rubio said, “Local media outlets are already facing a tremendous amount of pressure and competition from the sheer volume of where people are getting their information from. The last thing I think local media needs is another tax or fee that increases the cost of operating. That business model just becomes cost ineffective.”
Fernandez then asked Rubio if he was in favor of the NAB’s Local Radio Freedom Act and the Senator from Florida said, “I think the Radio Freedom Act would impose new taxes and fees on an industry that’s already in a lot of trouble when it comes to revenue. We’re going to lose local news and information if we keep raising costs on operation. And this is just one more cost.” The Local Radio Freedom Act is the non-binding resolution the NAB has been circulating in Congress for years which states no new tax will be imposed on local radio.
Whether he knows what the LRFA is or not, the good news for radio is Rubio does not want any new taxes of fees imposed on radio.
Fernandez also asked Rubio about the government’s role in free speech, specifically the Biden Administration’s attempt to open up a Ministry of Truth. Rubio said the most important job a government has is to protect freedom of speech. “Free speech is hard. Most countries in the world don’t try it because of that. They are required to allow people the freedom to say things that you know aren’t true, that you find to be offensive, that you find to be disturbing, you think are ridiculous. But, that’s the price of free speech. The alternative to free speech is someone then gets to decide what’s true, what is right and what is wrong and sometimes that decider might be you but sometimes it may not be you. I think its one of our most cherished rights. I think it’s one of the reasons America has been such a creative dynamic and innovative country because people have freedom to express themselves. I think what is very dangerous is when someone starts deciding who gets to speak and who doesn’t, what views are true and which are not. When someone gets inside with that government power you are now in a very dangerous trajectory and that’s what I hear could happen to this country if we don’t carefully monitor that.”
Rubio gave two specific examples of how free speech could have been curtailed. “A year and a half ago at this time I would’ve said I thought there’s a chance its possible maybe even likely that COVID originated as an accident at a Chinese lab in Wuhan, that would’ve been labeled disinformation. It would’ve been taken down by Facebook or by YouTube or in the media. Today it’s the consensus of our intelligence agency, and a growing number of scientists, that its possible this was from a lab. We may never know the full answer to it. But that’s no longer disinformation. Second, it was disinformation at one time to say that the COVID vaccine didn’t prevent people from getting COVID. Now we know that the vaccine, often times, doesn’t prevent COVID, although it does prevent serious illness. It has a good track record for preventing serious illness.”
And finally, Fernandez asked Rubio about whether he believes their should be a Hispanic on The FCC. “I hope so, but I don’t think it should be because they’re Hispanic. I think it should be because they’re the right person for the job. I didn’t run for president demanding that everybody vote for me because I’m a Hispanic. I think we have to get away from this idea that we need to hire people on the basis of their skin color or their ethnicity. And I think now what we need to do is make sure that your skin color or your ethnicity is not preventing you or preventing people from real opportunities to access that.”