Dingell, Flores, Veasey, Upton Lead Bipartisan Letter to President Trump in Support of Local Media
Washington, April 20, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Bill Flores (R-TX), Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Fred Upton (R-MI) led over 240 bipartisan lawmakers in asking the Trump Administration to direct current federal government advertising funds to local news and media outlets.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting local communities across our nation in unprecedented ways. All Americans are attempting to understand the full measure of this crisis, even as it continues to evolve on a daily basis. As in many of our nation’s most challenging times, the public turns to free and local media for life-saving information and breaking news, because local radio, television and newspapers are still the most trusted sources in times of emergency and disaster. We urge you work with us in ensuring that local media can continue to inform communities, even as these outlets face unprecedented economic distress,” the lawmakers wrote.
“America’s radio and TV broadcasters take seriously our responsibility to report, inform, comfort and educate our hometowns during these unprecedented times,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “Unfortunately, with economic activity at a standstill, local broadcasters are struggling without the local business advertising dollars that sustain stations and help local businesses generate commerce. We thank Reps. Dingell, Flores, Veasey and Upton and the over 240 Members of Congress who have expressed support for ensuring the future of trusted journalism, news and local media.”
“Local newspapers are working around the clock to provide the public with critical public health information and help individuals and families stay informed and connected with their communities,” said News Media Alliance President and CEO David Chavern. “With their advertising revenues falling off a cliff, we are at a turning point on whether many local newspapers will survive. Directing government advertising to local newspapers – across all market sizes – will help publishers and their hard-working journalists weather this storm and be around to report on the next crisis. We are heartened and grateful by the support from Reps. Dingell, Flores, Veasey and Upton and more than 240 Members of Congress who have called on the Administration to take action now to support America’s local media outlets.”
Local media outlets are devoting around-the-clock time and resources to reporting and informing communities on every aspect of COVID-19, even as they themselves are suffering enormous losses in revenue as all the businesses they rely on for advertising are also faltering or closed. Local media has always relied on advertising as its primary source of revenue which is then reinvested back into local news and journalism.
The full letter can be read here or below:
Dear President Trump,
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting local communities across our nation in unprecedented ways. All Americans are attempting to understand the full measure of this crisis, even as it continues to evolve on a daily basis. As in many of our nation’s most challenging times, the public turns to free and local media for life-saving information and breaking news, because local radio, television and newspapers are still the most trusted sources in times of emergency and disaster. We urge you work with us in ensuring that local media can continue to inform communities, even as these outlets face unprecedented economic distress.
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. 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.
We believe that Executive Branch agencies have a powerful opportunity to support local media and promote public awareness by directing that federal spending on advertising be prioritized for local media outlets. Specifically, we encourage federal agencies to put into action today already funded campaigns to achieve certain public objectives as well as potential promotions of the economic stimulus programs provided for by the CARES Act and other recent legislation. We urge you to:
1. Direct your Cabinet secretaries to review any resources intended to be used for advertising campaigns and have them expedite such activities with local media outlets;
2. 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
3. Incentivize a portion of stimulus funds provided to businesses for their recovery efforts for advertising on local media.
To get America moving again and strengthen our communities in the midst of this evolving crisis, we must be creative and use all available tools. Advertising plays an incredible role in local economies, and its importance to the sustainability of local broadcast stations and newspapers cannot be overstated. We thank you for your efforts so that Americans may continue to rely on the sources of local information they trust the most.