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Satellite TV says Illinois shouldn’t consider 5 percent tax

Satellite TV representatives say the Illinois legislature shouldn’t revive an idea to add a 5 percent tax to customers’ bills to pay for public works projects.

The representatives said at a Monday news conference that they’re worried the proposal might get new life as lawmakers look for ways to pay for road construction. They said the possible tax is unfair, particularly for rural residents who don’t have cable access.

“Satellite TV really fills a void there, providing entertainment and news,” said Lisa McCabe with the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association.

The tax hasn’t come up this year in a proposal. The state Senate has approved it in the past, but it didn’t go further. A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, told the State Journal-Register that he’s talked about the issue with cable and satellite representatives.

Cable TV providers pay a 5 percent franchise fee. Cable companies have said taxing satellite TV service would make the industry more equal. But McCabe said satellite service providers don’t use public rights-of-way like cable companies do.

“We don’t use the right-of-way,” McCabe said. “It is not a loophole. It is a different technology.”