Exclusive: TV Programmers Seek Pandemic Insurance from Congress

Shows such as Fox's hit, 'The Masked Singer,' could use such insurance if they are to start ramping back up next month for the fall, as planned, (Image credit: CR: Michael Becker / FOX)

An informal group of major media trade groups, unions and some high-powered sports organizations--led by Fox--is asking Congress to pass legislation that would provide "pandemic risk insurance" for businesses attempting to, well, do business during the current pandemic. 

Among those signing on to the letter were NAB, NCTA, MPA, NFL, SAG-AFTRA and NASCAR. 

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by Multichannel News. Shows such as Fox's hit, The Masked Singer, could use such insurance, as will sports productions, if they are to start ramping back up next month for the fall, as planned, but with no guarantee a pandemic spike could spike their plans at the last minute. 

They said the "the ability of American businesses like ours to secure pandemic risk insurance will be a key factor to America’s economic recovery." 

"Whether it be professional and collegiate sporting events, the next must-see film, a bingeworthy TV series, or a marquee Broadway production, we cannot envision any long-term recovery of these American  experiences without some form of business interruption insurance that mitigates the risks associated  with producing these popular events and programs in the COVID era now facing the country," they wrote to Hill leadership in a letter dated Wednesday (July 1). 

The point is, according to someone familiar with the coalition, is that currently insurance companies aren't offering pandemic riders and probably won't absent some shove from D.C. That means that if the NFL restarts, production is planned, then a governor shuts down the stadium, or the production of an entertainment show, there is all that cost that will otherwise have to be eaten. 

He points out that Congress approved terrorism risk insurance for business re-openings after 9/11. 

Fox and company are hoping to generate some Hill activity on the issue following members' return after July 4, according to the source familiar with the coalition.

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.