Broadcasters Should Receive Small Business Aid, Senators Say

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WASHINGTON—Local broadcasters should qualify for small business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program, urges a bipartisan group of senators.

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have written a letter to their colleagues in the Senate, calling to waive the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) affiliation rule to allow local media (newspapers, TV and radio) access to funding.

“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 letter reads. “Local newspapers, radio and television stations provide important local content that keeps the communities informed. People rely on local newspapers and broadcasters to cover school and business closures, to widely communicate public health guidance and to combat life-threatening misinformation.”

Many broadcasters have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in lost revenue—estimated to be $3 billion for local TV and radio broadcasters. It has also resulted in an estimated 28,000 news workers being laid off nationwide, according to Sen. Cantwell’s office.

“NAB is grateful to Senators Cantwell, Kennedy, Klobuchar and Boozman for their leadership in supporting expanded access to Small Business Administration loans for local radio and television stations under the Payroll Protection Program,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “We urge Congressional leaders to support this proposal to provide immediate SBA loan eligibility to more local radio and TV stations.”

The American Television Alliance came out against a recent NAB proposal, saying it does not believe that funds designated for small businesses should be given to TV stations, arguing that the funds would be given to large conglomerates like Sinclair, Hearst, Tegna and Nexstar.

The senators make a key point though that any funds should be designated specifically for stations, not their parent companies.

“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,” the senators letter read. “Local newspapers and broadcasters have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, are essential in maintaining a well-informed public and deserve our help.”

The full letter is available online