Cicilline, Sensenbrenner Introduce Bill to Protect Local News Publishers

May 15, 2020 Issues: Education

PAWTUCKET – Today, House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) and Ranking Member F. James Sensenbrenner (WI-05) 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.

 

“Reliable local information and reporting in our communities is more important than ever,” 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.”

 

The bill ensures that small, local broadcasters and publishers are able to access vitally needed loans under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Importantly, 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.

 

Last month, Congressmen Cicilline and Sensenbrenner led 124 of their colleagues in sending a letter to House leadership urging them to include language in any future stimulus package guaranteeing that local media outlets are able to access funds through the PPP.

 

A companion measure has been introduced by Senators Cantwell (D-WA), Boozman (R-AR), Klobuchar (D-MN), Ernst (R-IA), and Schumer (D-NY). The bill text can be found HERE.