Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer:
We appreciate the efforts invested in addressing the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and stand ready to support efforts by Congress and the administration to coordinate an effective response to the pandemic.
As policymakers consider measures to control the spread of COVID-19 and ameliorate its impacts, it is imperative that the policies put into place protect the most vulnerable citizens and assist small businesses in working through the disruptions and challenges that mitigation measures continue to present.
We urge Congress to ensure that any future COVID-19 relief package contains funding to support local broadcast TV and radio. Like restaurants and hotels that have been eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on a local level, local radio stations and television broadcasters are critical for the nation’s COVID-19 response, as their goal is to inform and educate communities to help keep people safe. Local media outlets are providing communities answers to critical questions, including information on where to get locally tested, hospital capacity, travel restrictions, essential business hours of operation, and shelter-in-place orders.
Despite being critical components to the nation’s COVID-19 response, radio stations and television broadcasters are not currently eligible for the PPP relief package on a local station level, unlike national hotel and restaurant chains.
Countless small businesses are impacted by the spread of the pandemic, and broadcast media outlets are no exception. They are working around the clock to consistently get critical and timely information to the public, but their ability to continue to serve communities is being undermined by the financial harm posed by the current crisis. Businesses are sharply curtailing their spending on broadcast ads, which means income is drying up and the ability for small broadcasters to stay on the air is ever more uncertain. Increasingly, small radio stations, some that have operated for decades, have gone off the air.
As you continue your important work on behalf of the public health, safety and economic security of the American people, we urge you to consider any future stimulus package to contain funding to support community broadcasters, and recognize their vital role during this pandemic.