Flores requests local media receive federal advertising funds

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) helped lead a bipartisan contingent of more than 240 lawmakers in requesting that current federal government advertising funds be directed to local news and media outlets impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We urge you to work with us in ensuring that local media can continue to inform communities, even as these outlets face unprecedented economic distress,” wrote Rep. Flores and his colleagues in an April 20 letter sent to President Donald Trump.

The members wrote that the public turns to free and local media because it remains the most trusted source in times of emergency and disaster.

“Local news and information on radio, television and newsprint is more in demand than ever, yet local media outlets are experiencing catastrophic losses in the advertising revenue that allows them to continue investing in providing that news to the public,” Rep. Flores and the lawmakers wrote. “This national emergency has caused a near halt to local business activity and in turn, the regular and vital advertising they purchase from local media. Without advertising revenue, local media outlets cannot survive.”

Specifically, they urged Trump to direct his cabinet secretaries to review any resources intended to be used for advertising campaigns and have them expedite such activities with local media outlets, according to their letter.

They also asked the president to direct federal agency advertising dollars for existing and new federal programs where community outreach is needed for spending with local media, including those serving minority and rural communities; and to incentivize a portion of stimulus funds provided to businesses for their recovery efforts for advertising on local media, according to their letter.

“Advertising plays an incredible role in local economies, and its importance to the sustainability of local broadcast stations and newspapers cannot be overstated,” wrote Rep. Flores and his colleagues.

Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the National Broadcasters Association, thanked the lawmakers “for ensuring the future of trusted journalism, news and local media.”