Diverse Local Media Outlets Need Emergency Funding, Democrats Urge

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WASHINGTON—Local and ethnic media outlets need to be included in future stimulus packages, a group of Democratic leaders of color urged Senate and House leaders in a letter.

The letter makes the case that local ethnic media outlets and local media outlets that serve minority communities are the ones that are best positioned to deliver information regarding COVID-19 updates to their viewers, which they argue have been underserved and vulnerable during the current pandemic.

“Considering COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on our communities, it is paramount that our constituencies receive rapid and factual news from the culturally relevant sources they trust,” the letter reads. “Local media outlets such as broadcasters and news publishers are more trusted than any other news source.”

In future stimulus packages, the group wants included:

  • Language to appropriate and direct emergency funding and federal advertising dollars for ethnic and local news media outlets;
  • Language directing all federal agencies to review their communications practices and public awareness campaigns to ensure that they are effectively reaching non-English speaking populations during the pandemic;
  • Language to support additional informational messaging and programming on how the public can manage the economic and public health impacts of COVID-19, and to broadcast such programming in multiple languages on TV and radio stations serving minority and foreign-language speakers; and 
  • Language to appropriate funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to support national programming aimed at reaching African American, Latino, Asian Pacific and Native American audiences with rapid news and factual information 

The letter was signed by Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (D- Calif.), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Congressional Native American Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.). It was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

Other organizations and politicians have been making efforts to support local media outlets and broadcasters. The NAB, along with newspaper organizations, also called for a commitment of federal advertising to local media. In addition, bipartisan efforts have been launched to qualify local broadcast stations for Small Business Aid. Others, like the American Television Alliance, have concerns that since local TV stations are often part of large conglomerates, there is risk such aid could be shared with companies that would not qualify as small businesses.

The full letter regarding minority media outlets is available online