DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa’s U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley called for relief for local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grassley and Ernst joined 72 other U.S. Senators requesting the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) support advertising on local media outlets to help get public service announcements out and to provide advertising revenue that is in decline due to the pandemic.
“Our radio and television broadcasters and rural newspapers provide local and national news, emergency alerts, educational programs, and more to all corners of the United States. In many rural areas, broadcast stations are the predominant or only form of local information. We encourage the Office of Management and Budget to work with federal agencies throughout the government to increase advertising in local newspapers and on broadcast stations in order to help ensure they are able to continue to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” the senators wrote.
Ernst went beyond the OMB request and said media outlets should qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
“Local reporting in Iowa is always vital for our communities, but especially now,” Ernst said. “Iowa families and small businesses depend on access to the latest, reliable information, and our local newspapers, TV, and radio stations play an important role in doing that. Local media, like other small businesses who are facing challenging times, should be able to benefit from the Paycheck Protection Program. In addition, we should direct existing funds we’ve already provided to the federal government for public service announcements to our local news outlets, so the public can stay informed and up to date, with no additional cost to Iowa taxpayers.”
In certain instances, local newspapers and radio and TV stations are face hurdles in accessing support from the PPP because they are owned by a larger chain, putting their number of employees over the 500 limit. Ernst is pushing for a Small Business Administration (SBA) rule to be waived so that these local publications and stations can benefit from the PPP.