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Rural, Agricultural Groups Want Federal Support for Local Broadcasters

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WASHINGTON—Organizations representing rural and agricultural interests have offered their support of local media during the current coronavirus pandemic and are calling for existing federal agency advertising funds to be spent with local broadcasters and news publishers.

This comes from a letter signed by a number of these rural and agricultural organizations to the House and Senate Appropriation Committees. The signees include American Agri-Women, American Dairy Coalition, National Association of Wheat Growers, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, South Dakota Farmers Union, United States Cattlemen’s Association and the Rural & Agricultural Council of America.

The letter highlights how in many instances, broadcast stations are the predominant or only form of local information, which has been especially important during COVID-19.

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However, the negative economic impacts of the pandemic have caused advertising revenue for these broadcast stations to decrease, with experts’ estimated forecasts of the total revenue losses to be between $5 and $10 billion, the letter states.

A potential solution that the groups want to see is for federal agencies to supplement some of this loss revenue with their own advertising funds.

“Just as local media can help restart main street businesses and the economy, advertising on these mediums can help disperse critical government messages during this crisis and recovery to rural America,” the letter reads.

In addition to the request for existing federal advertising funds to be spent on local broadcasters, the groups want additional federal advertising funding in future stimulus or appropriations bills that are distributed across local media sectors and equitably allocated across large, medium and small communities.

“Our local broadcasters are a critical component of our communities and the services they provide cannot be lost,” the letter concludes.

The full letter is available online.