WASHINGTON—ATVA is not entirely pleased with who the recently approved Congressional Stimulus Package will allow to access small business funds. As it had previously criticized, it believes that the legislation opens up small business aid to benefit large broadcast conglomerates.
Per the new stimulus package, individual TV stations can apply for PPP loans as long as the individual station employs no more than 500 employees per physical location; this includes stations that may be owned by large station groups like Nexstar, Tegna or others. ATVA says that by law these station groups are required to handle personnel, programming and finances for these stations, meaning that their stations should not be able to be classified individually.
“These big broadcasters have reported huge profits this year and now they are positioned to reap millions of dollars each in a handout from taxpayers,” said Jessica Kendust, an ATVA spokesperson. “We hope these large and profitable companies understand the public service obligations expected of those demanding taxpayer support—obligations they should keep in mind when deciding whether to black out the ‘locally focused or emergency information’ that Congress is seeking to protect.”
Kendust points out that despite people’s reliance on local news during the pandemic, major blackouts have occurred throughout the year, including recent issues with Tegna and AT&T (now resolved) and Nexstar and Dish.
“These blackouts should never have happened,” Kendust said. “And now that taxpayers are subsidizing these broadcasters’ already-profitable operations, they must stop using these tactics.”
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