Donald Trump Signs COVID-19, Government Funding Bill

White House
(Image credit: Future)

After tweeting: "Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!" Sunday night, President Trump signed the COVID-19 relief/government funding bill.

The bills contain billions of dollars for broadband, more small business loans for broadcasters, and a provision making pirating video streams a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Also Read: NCTA Praises Broadband Funding in COVID-19 Bill

Broadcasters who are part of a group will be able to count as individual small businesses eligible for COVID-19 aid loans, up to $10 million per broadcast group.

On the issue of Sec. 230, the social media immunity from civil liability for third-party content moderation, the President said he has assurances Congress will take up the issue separately. He vetoed a separate, defense spending bill in part because it lacked amendments targeted at Sec. 230 .

In a statement, the President said that "Congress has promised that Section 230, which so unfairly benefits Big Tech at the expense of the American people, will be reviewed and either be terminated or substantially reformed," adding: "Big Tech must not get protections of Section 230!"

The pledge of a review does not mean and only a promise to reform is arguably a way to give the President a chance to save face on the issue without necessarily doing anything more than both sides of the aisle have called for, which is a review of the issue and likely changes to make the section less of a blanket immunity.

Trump said he was signing the bill, but with other, apparently, face-saving caveats: "I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed," he said. " I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill."

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.