Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type

Special Feature

Publication Date


Publication Citation

51 Federal Communications Law Journal 693 (1999)


Tax certificates are an example of successful incentive regulation. Prior to its repeal in 1995, section 1071 of the Internal Revenue Code permitted the tax-free sale or exchange of media properties to effectuate policies of the Federal Communications Commission. Enacted by Congress in 1943, this provision was originally used to soften the hardship created by involuntary sales of broadcast properties made necessary to reduce ownership concentration in the radio industry. In 1978, the tax certificate was used to promote goals to increase minority ownership of a variety of communications properties. This Article discusses the "value" of tax certificates as a public policy tool and measures that tool’s efficacy in promoting the particular goal of increased minority ownership. It also discusses the importance of tax certificates in an environment of increased ownership concentration in the radio industry.

Forum: New Approaches to Minority Media Ownership, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, Columbia University.