Late Thursday, the House of Representatives — led by Democrats — approved The Heroes Act, which includes provisions to expand eligibility for U.S. Small Business Administration loan access to struggling local newspapers and radio and television stations.
This was hailed by the head of the NAB. But, that cheering could simply be symbolic: the bill has a thin chance of passing the Senate or getting the White House to sign it.
The successful passage of the bill comes following the May 2020 introduction by Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) of the Local News and Emergency Information Act in the House.
It was standalone legislation that expands eligibility for U.S. Small Business Administration loan access to “struggling” local newspapers and radio and television stations.
Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have introduced the Local News and Emergency Information Act in the Senate.
According to the NAB, the Senate bill continues to garner bipartisan support.
But, it is unlikely enough Republicans will support the big-dollar bill — a point of consternation with the GOP.
Still, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith was pleased of the House passage.
“America’s broadcasters and hometown newspapers have been providing comprehensive coverage and critical information during the COVID-19 pandemic, even as they face unprecedented financial hardships that threaten local journalism,” he said. “We thank Speaker Pelosi and Chairwoman Velázquez for including provisions to support local broadcasters during these difficult times, and we appreciate the leadership of Reps. Cicilline and Sensenbrenner, Senators Cantwell, Boozman, and Schumer, and their cosponsors in both chambers in support of these important provisions.”
The expansion of PPP for local media would:
- provide television and radio broadcasters, as well as newspapers, the same treatment as hotels and restaurants received under the original CARES Act PPP – eligibility based on a physical location basis;
- require a local station to fit within the SBA size standard for the broadcasting industry;
- ensure that expanded PPP funds would remain at the local level through additional oversight.
However, that’s not likely in this Congressional session.