A piece of legislation in Maine is poised to slap a tax on streaming services that use a town’s telephone poles and wires to deliver content to viewers.
LD 1967, or An Act to Support Municipal Franchise Agreement, which passed the Maine Senate and is reportedly expected to be signed Gov. Janet Mills, prevents “a video service provider from offering or providing its services within a municipality unless it has entered into a franchise agreement or contract with the municipality.”
Maine is the latest state to demand that streaming services be taxed like cable companies. Bills have been cropping up across the U.S. over the last few years and are meant to help offset the financial losses of cable providers amid the rise of cord cutting.
The notion of treating streamers like cable services has been met with resistance.
Last month, Missouri’s House of Representatives introduced a bill that would prevent local governments from tacking the extra fee.
One U.S. judge said streamers don’t maintain a physical presence in cities like cable TV providers who run cable, so they shouldn’t be taxed.
Comcast, who owns streamer Peacock’s parent company, NBCUniversal, has reportedly called out the legislation in Maine. Because Comcast is a cable company that owns a streaming service, Comcast would likely be charged the proposed tax.
One of the cable TV company’s senior lawyers sent a letter to Mills urging the bill to be shut down.
“The [bill] unfairly singles out Peacock and a handful of other streaming services for unprecedented and discriminatory fees and regulatory obligations,” Kimberley D. Harris, executive vice president of Comcast. and general counsel of NBCUniversal said in a letter obtained by Policyband. “It will only apply to Maine consumers who access Peacock’s linear and on-demand video content over broadband Internet service provided by an affiliate, Comcast Cable.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Melanie Sachs, reportedly said that the law was meant to modernize the law is meant to modernize the state’s decades-old cable franchising statutes.
“There is no is no ill-will toward cable operators,” Sachs said in an interview with Policyband.
Comcast and Sachs weren’t immediately available for comment.