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January 24, 2024

State Chamber opposes bill that could charge Mainers more for streaming services

Photo / Adobe Stock Maine residents could see a new tax added onto their streaming service fees.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce is fighting a bill that would raise taxes and fees on streaming services.

The legislation, LD 1967, passed in the Maine Senate on Tuesday. If the bill becomes law, it could increase the services' costs for Maine consumers by up to 40%, according to the chamber.

“The Maine State Chamber shares concerns of households about driving up streaming costs at an already difficult time for households struggling with inflation and an overall higher cost of living,” said President and CEO Patrick Woodcock. 

Courtesy / Maine State Chamber of Commerce
Patrick Woodcock is president and CEO of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.

“The Maine State Chamber is also concerned that this bill will increase the cost of doing business in Maine, disincentivize future infrastructure investments in our state, and applies an inconsistent application of community requirements on broadband service providers.

"Effectively, the bill attempts to reapply a 1980s cable regulation on the competitive broadband and streaming service landscape today that will lead to higher costs and an unfair regulatory environment for a critical household service.”

The chamber cites a poll by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center, which found that 69% of Maine voters were against the proposed streaming tax and only 15% support it. The results were from online surveys of 938 registered voters collected Nov. 28-30.

Among those polled, 73% subscribe to streaming services, more than double the 33% that subscribe to cable TV. 

At a public hearing in October, representatives from several municipalities voiced strong support for the bill. Many said that cities and towns should continue to have authority to work with video service providers to negotiate fees and terms that best meet the needs of the communities.

"The cable industry suggests they have given millions in franchise fees to Maine municipalities," said Maurice Amaral, chair of the Maine Community Media Association. "These fees are not a gift."

The bill will go onto the House of Representatives for enactment of any changes before heading to the desk of Gov. Janet Mills for her possible signature. 

Maine isn’t the only state that has proposed a tax for streaming services. According to published reports, around two-thirds of the U.S. states have applied their sales tax to digital downloads and subscriptions.

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