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U.S. Reps Introduce Bill to Protect Local News Publishers


U.S. Congress
U.S. Congress

U.S. House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) and Ranking Member F. James Sensenbrenner (WI-05) have introduced the Local News and Emergency Information Act. The legislation would ensure that all local news organizations are eligible for federal stimulus through the Paycheck Protection Program. The bill ensures that small, local broadcasters and publishers are able to access vitally needed loans under the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program.

The bill requires that these funds can only be used only by local news publishers for payroll purposes to produce news locally. Parent companies would be prevented from accessing any funding granted to a local news organization.

"Reliable local information and reporting in our communities is more important than ever," said Cicilline said. "Newsrooms around the country have been forced to lay off workers because of the coronavirus epidemic. This legislation will save jobs and protect people's access to timely and accurate information about their communities. As our country responds and recovers from the COVID-19 crisis, protecting the free and diverse press is more important than ever to preserve our public health and safety, local businesses, and our democracy."

In a statement, NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said, "NAB thanks Reps. Cicilline and Sensenbrenner for introducing bipartisan legislation that would help local media outlets weather unprecedented advertising losses. Today's legislation builds on the letter these legislators led last month with bipartisan support of more than 120 of their House colleagues.

"Expanding eligibility for Payroll Protection Program loans for local radio and TV stations and newspapers would support lifeline journalism and fact-based reporting of the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to working with Reps. Cicilline and Sensenbrenner and their counterparts in the Senate on Coronavirus economic relief efforts that strengthen local media and journalism in hometowns across America."

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