Bipartisan Letter Urging Support for Local Media Outlets Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

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As the Senate considers additional measures to support small businesses around the country struggling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and John Boozman (R-AR) sent a letter to Senate leadership urging them to ensure any future legislation make thousands of local newspapers, TV, and radio stations around the country eligible for small business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In the letter, the senators called for waiving the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) affiliation rule to allow local media outlets to access funding, pointing to the critical role these outlets play in keeping communities healthy and informed. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on local media outlets around the country. In the last few months, local newspapers have lost as much as 50 percent of advertising revenue, and the National Association of Broadcasters found that some local broadcasters have reported as much as a 90 percent loss in advertising revenues. Nationwide, advertising losses for local TV and radio broadcasters are estimated to reach at least $3 billion. The crisis has also resulted in an estimated 28,000 news workers being laid off nationwide. These losses have only increased the financial difficulties many local media outlets have been feeling for years. From 2005 to 2018, newspaper advertising revenue fell from $49 billion to $14 billion, while subscription revenue remained flat. During the same time period, at least 1,800 newspapers went out of business and roughly 28,000 newsroom jobs were lost nationwide.

Cantwell, Kennedy, Klobuchar, Boozman Send Bipartisan Letter Urging Support for Local Media Outlets Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic