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TAB Asks Congress to Do More for Local Media

- Next COVID-19 Relief Bill Taking Shape

The Payroll Protection Program included in Congress’ primary legislative effort to help businesses survive the pandemic helped a lot of local Texas Radio stations and some TV stations weather the first few months of the disaster. But Congress needs to do much more if local broadcasters and newspapers alike are to survive the ongoing crisis.

TAB and its counterparts across the nation are jointly pressing leaders of the U.S. House and Senate to refine the affiliate attribution rules in the CARES Act legislation to ensure that PPP eligibility is determined on a local, per station or newsroom basis. Such a provision was included in the far-reaching, $3 trillion HEROES Act passed by the Democratic-led House in May but which has stalled in the Republican-led Senate.

In a letter to Congressional leaders released last week, we also requested:

  • That Congress include provisions in upcoming appropriations bills and COVID-19 relief legislation to fund and prioritize local media for advertising federal priorities, and
  • That relief legislation for local communities include incentives for them to spend a portion of those funds on promotion through advertising on local Radio, Television and newspapers.

The federal advertising push launched in April in concert with the NAB, securing the support of 270 members of Congress, including bipartisan support from 19 Texas members of the House and both Republican Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. It has begun bearing fruit.

Three weeks ago, stations were alerted to a potential $75 million additional buy from the Census Bureau to target hundreds of rural counties in Texas and other states where self-reporting has not yet reached the Bureau’s desired 60 percent rate.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that it is planning a nationwide buy on local media for COVID-19 educational messages. And at least two Texans in Congress Reps. Mac Thornberry and Kay Granger, Republicans from Amarillo and Arlington, have taken the lead on further efforts.

Thornberry, ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, ensured that the new National Defense Appropriations Act encourages spending on local media for recruitment and other needs. Granger, ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, has ensured that similar language is included in other appropriations bills.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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