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Senate Majority Favors Helping Local Media

Add a bipartisan letter from a majority of the Senate to those calling on the government to spend federal advertising dollars on local media to help them in the pandemic-gutted ad market.

A majority of the House has already weighed in in support of the move.

Many of those outlets have already committed millions of dollars in ad time for free to COVID-19 related government campaigns.

Related: Local Media Outlets Seek Billions in Government Ad Dollars

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined with Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and others—more than 70 in all—on a letter encouraging the Office of Management and Budget to boost broadcast and local newspaper budgets for new and existing campaigns, such as COVID-19 aid related info or census reminders.

In the letter, to Acting OMB director Russell Voight, they pointed out that broadcasters are sometimes the only form of local information in rural areas and it was important that they continue to provide that essential service during the pandemic.

They said that spending more of federal agencies' advertising accounts for public notices and info on local media would serve a vital dual purpose—disseminate important information to the community and give local media the revenue to keep them operating.

Broadcasters have pushed for Congress to direct those agencies to spend billions on local media, including in the most recent COVID-19 aid package—that did not fly despite the House and Senate majorities on the letters of support—and signaled they would push for it in a subsequent bill.

But the legislators pointed out that OMB could boost the local media spending today, without the need for additional action by Congress.