U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), who has called for support for local media as they play a critical role amid the COVID-19 pandemic, helped introduce bipartisan legislation allowing Iowa’s local newspapers, television, and radio stations to benefit from the widely-used Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) even if they are owned by a larger entity.
“Local reporting has always been critical for our communities in Iowa, but that’s especially true today,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “Our families, small businesses, and front line workers all depend on having the most up-to-date and reliable information available, and it’s our local newspapers, TV, and radio stations that deliver it. Local press, like other small businesses who are facing challenges amid this pandemic, should be able to benefit from the Paycheck Protection Program, and this bipartisan legislation will make that support available to them.”
In certain instances, local newspapers and radio and TV stations are facing hurdles in accessing support from the PPP because they are part of a larger company, which puts their number of employees over the 500 limit. The Local News and Emergency Information Act would ensure these local publications and stations are eligible for the PPP.
In addition, last month, Senator Ernst and a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget requesting existing funds—which have already been allocated—be directed toward public service announcement advertising on local media, to inform the public and to circulate information about resources available relating to COVID-19.