Senate Broadcast COVID-19 Aid Bill Introduced

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has introduced a Senate bill that would allow TV stations that are part of a larger broadcast group to qualify, individually, for COVID-19 small business "forgivable" loans.

The Local News and Emergency Information Act of 2020, mirrors language in the House HEROES Act, but Republicans have signaled the omnibus Democrat-backed aid bill would be DOA in that body, but there is support from both sides of the aisle for the broadcast aid bill.

Currently, TV stations that are part of a larger group don't qualify for small business COVID-19 aid in the CARES Act. The bill would allow them to do so, but the money could only be spent on the needs of a specific physical location, which means it could not be claimed by the broadcast group owner for other purposes.

The National Association of Broadcasters has been pushing Congress to add broadcasters to the small business category, so it applauded the new bill.

“Advertising losses have devastated the local media business in recent weeks at a time when credible, lifesaving local news and information is needed most," said NAB president Gordon Smith. "Broadcasters look forward to working with Congress to ensure that this legislative language is included in future Coronavirus economic relief efforts to help preserve local media and local journalism.”

Also backing the bill are Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

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.