Emmer seeks federal support for local broadcasters affected by COVID-19

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) urged leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives to include a provision supporting America’s local broadcasters in the next COVID-19 emergency relief package.

“The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every American, but for those whose job it is to keep us informed — like our local radio and TV stations — this outbreak has been exceptionally difficult,” Rep. Emmer said. “They have been tasked with getting us up-to-date information during a time of high stress where the information they share could literally save lives.”

Many local broadcasters rely almost entirely on advertising revenue, which has essentially dried up during the related shutdown, wrote Rep. Emmer and his colleague U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional Broadcasters Caucus, in a July 28 letter sent to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-CA); U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD); and U.S. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA).

In fact, many local broadcasters have seen their losses range from 50 percent to 90 percent of their advertising compared to the same periods last year. “Some estimate that they may see a decline of more than $14 billion this year,” the members wrote.

They pointed out that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided hotels, restaurants and others the ability to count their employees for eligibility in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by individual location rather than as part of their ownership groups.

“These are precisely the business partners who have been forced to drop their advertising with broadcasters,” wrote the lawmakers. “We strongly believe that providing local media outlets with this same ability: the ability for those businesses that essentially operate independently to count their employees based on their individual locations.”

The bipartisan Local News and Emergency Information Act, H.R. 6897/S.3718, includes this provision, which Reps. Emmer and Boyle said should be included in forthcoming pandemic relief funding.

“The local radio and TV stations that give us the stories we need to know deserve our support and I am urging my colleagues to show them that they are essential by ensuring they have what they need to weather this storm,” said Rep. Emmer.

The letter is supported by the National Association of Broadcasters.