Senator Schumer Talks with NYSBA Board Members on COVID-19 Crisis Relief

On Sunday morning Senator Chuck Schumer had an hour long conversation with the NYSBA Board of Directors.  This call followed up on a previous call with his staff last Thursday.  The NYSBA Board pressed Senator Schumer on the need for a multi-pronged economic relief package for broadcasters.

We discussed at length the importance of local broadcasters as “First informers” during this crisis.  Each station has broadcast thousands of hours of COCID-19 related news, public affairs programs and PSAs. Unfortunately, the collapse of the advertising markets throughout New York has placed our ability to inform the public in jeopardy.  We are doing our best to continue informing the public.  However, we are facing enormous economic challenges and time is running out.

We had several specific suggestions regarding future legislation and government policy towards local stations throughout New York.

  • SBA Funding – More funding for the SBA Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury and Disaster Relief Loan Program (EIDL). This must be funded immediately.
  • Federal Advertising Campaigns – Federal agencies need to purchase adverting time on local stations. Congress should include a provision in the next COVID-19 legislative package requiring agencies to buy time on local media.  Even without legislation Congress should ask the Administration to buy adverting time on local stations.
  • Linking Federal Benefits to Local Advertising Buys – Congress should consider linking relief for certain industries with an incentive to purchase time on local media.
  • Expansion of SBA Eligibility – The current SBA “affiliate rules” and500 person employee limit on eligibility needs to be reexamined.  Existing law permits hotels and restaurants to base eligibility on local employment.  We are local “First Informers” and deserve similar treatment.
  • Estimated Business Tax Payments/Filings – While now delayed until July, the IRS should extend these estimated payments and filings to the end of the year.  This will help stations that now face a liquidity crisis.
  • Business Interruption Insurance – Losses due to pandemic related government shut downs should be covered under business insurance.
  • Public Financing – We thanked the Senator for its initial funding, but public broadcasting needs additional funding to get through the crisis.
  • Journalist Testing – While hospital workers and First Responders must be tested first, we also need to give journalists covering these stories priority for testing. We are “First Informers.”

We understand different stations have different priorities.  We can all agree however, that help is needed.  Senator Schumer was very responsive during the call.  He recognized that local stations need help and that the Federal Government must act swiftly.

 

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