HEROES Act Passes, Expands Available Aid to Local Broadcasters

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WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives has passed The HEROES Act, which will allow for local TV and radio stations, as well as local newspapers, to apply for U.S. Small Business Administration loans to help deal with the financial struggles that have occurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The HEROES Act expands access to the Payroll Protection Program. This means that TV and radio broadcasters are now treated the same as hotels and restaurants under the original CARES Act, which determines eligibility based on the stations’ physical location and not a parent company.

To ensure that a station is eligible for PPP, the station must fit within the Small Business Administration size standard for the broadcasting industry; for TV broadcasters that standard is having $14.5 million or less in annual revenue. In addition, expanded PPP funds must remain at the local level, which will be ensured through additional oversight.

“NAB applauds House passage of The HEROES Act that would expand eligibility to Payroll Protection Program loans for local media outlets, including radio and television stations,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “America’s broadcasters and hometown newspapers have been providing comprehensive coverage and critical information during the COVID-19 pandemic, even as they face unprecedented financial hardships that threaten local journalism.”

However, prior to the bill’s passage, some believed that expanding PPP would unfairly benefit the parent companies that many of local stations are owned by.

The Senate still needs to vote on their version of the bill, but NAB reports that it has bipartisan support.