COVID-19 Small Business Bill Lacks Local Media Aid Elements

The next COVID-19 legislative package will apparently not include a couple of things that would have helped media outlets facing plunging ad dollars and a public's increased reliance on critical news and information. 

A compromise bill was struck Tuesday (April 21) on a $480 billion successor bill to help small businesses.

Broadcasters and newspapers, with the help of some legislators, had pushed for the next COVID-19 aid bill to include billions of dollars in federal advertising expenditures-for PSAs or census response campaigns--to be directed specifically to local media outlets. 

Related: Local Media Outlets Seek COVID-19 Aid

They had also wanted individual stations and newspapers to get Paycheck Protection Act subsidies by being counted as individual small businesses, rather than operating units of a larger media group, like Tegna, Nexstar, Sinclair. 

But neither of those were included in a bill that emerged Tuesday (April 21), the National Association of Broadcasters confirmed, saying it was not surprised given that it was a targeted bill and suggesting it would work toward the next bill. 

“Given the need for unanimous consent, we always knew it was a long shot to think Congress would include substantive changes like the expanded SBA loan eligibility for news media outlets in the narrowly tailored funding package agreed upon today," said NAB EVP Dennis Wharton. "We thank the Members who led this charge like Sen. Maria Cantwell [D-Wash.] and are now focusing all our energy on the next, larger package, in support of both expanded SBA loan eligibility and a targeted federal advertising spend desperately needed to support newspapers and local radio and TV stations.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.