House Majority Favors Fed Ad Dollars for Local Media

Over half of the members of the House (240) have signed on to a letter to the Trump Administration asking it to direct federal government advertising dollars to local news media. 

Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Marc Veasey (D-Texas) and Bill Flores (R-Texas) had circulated the letter last week seeking their colleagues' signatures, 

The National Association of Broadcasters, News Media Alliance and others have called for the same thing.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting local communities across our nation in unprecedented ways. All Americans are attempting to understand the full measure of this crisis, even as it continues to evolve on a daily basis," they wrote to the President. "As in many of our nation’s most challenging times, the public turns to free and local media for life-saving information and breaking news, because local radio, television and newspapers are still the most trusted sources in times of emergency and disaster. We urge you work with us in ensuring that local media can continue to inform communities, even as these outlets face unprecedented economic distress." 

The legislators want Trump to: 

1) "Direct your Cabinet secretaries to review any resources intended to be used for advertising campaigns and have them expedite such activities with local media outlets; 

2) "Direct federal agency advertising dollars for existing and new federal programs wherecommunity outreach is needed for spending with local media, including those serving minority and rural communities; and 

3) "Incentivize a portion of stimulus funds provided to businesses for their recovery efforts for advertising on local media."

A group of senators last week wrote to their leadership calling on them to include aid for local media and journalism in the next COVID-19 aid package 

The President could be a tough sell. He is constantly attacking the national media, so perhaps he would be amenable to bypassing national outlets for local ones. But his campaign has also filed suit against at least one TV station over carriage of a political ad critical of the President.

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.