Bipartisan Group Of Senators Call For Funding Of Local Media Through PPP

Local news illustration. (Shutterstock)

A bipartisan group of United States Senators wrote a letter Sunday calling for expanding payroll assistance to struggling local newspapers and broadcast stations that have seen reduced advertising revenue during the nation’s coronavirus epidemic.

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Kennedy (R-LA) and John Boozman (R-AR) have requested that Senate leaders amend the rules of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in order to make thousands of local newspapers and television and radio stations eligible for assistance.

Many local outlets across the nation are currently ineligible for the funding because they are owned by parent companies too large to qualify, particularly in local television (i.e. Sinclair, Nexstar, TEGNA).

“Ensuring that local news outlets remain viable at this critical time is not only a matter of fairness, but is essential to public health,” the senators wrote in their letter.

The bipartisan group of four senators added that local newspapers have lost as much as 50 percent of advertising revenue. Meanwhile, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says some local broadcasters have reported as much as a 90 percent loss in ad revenue.

“Waiving SBA’s affiliation rules for local newspapers and broadcasters and ensuring that financial assistance flows to the local affiliate, not the parent company, would allow these small, local operations to be eligible for much-needed financial relief. Local newspapers and broadcasters have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, are essential for maintaining a well-informed public, and deserve our help,” the senators wrote.

According to Reuters, “tens of thousands of local media workers are being forced to take unpaid furloughs or seeing cuts to paychecks, while other outlets are shrinking staff and reducing the frequency of printing, and some smaller newspapers in California, Vermont and South Dakota are closing.”

To read the senators’ full letter, click here.