US Congress agrees to extend payroll support to local media

FILE PHOTO: A newspaper vending machine is pictured in Basil in the midst of an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the state of Louisiana, United States, March 26, 2020. REUTERS / Jonathan Bachman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congressional leaders said on Sunday that lawmakers agreed to extend government forgiveness loans to other struggling local media under a $ 900 billion COVID-19 relief bill of dollars.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the measure would expand eligibility “to nonprofits and local newspapers, television and radio stations.” .

Thousands of local newspapers, television and radio stations had not been eligible for the initial “paycheck protection program” approved by Congress in March because they were owned by larger parent companies.

Local US media, which have already faced a decline in print revenues in recent years, have seen their advertising revenues drop in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. A report released by Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell in October said U.S. newspapers would most likely cut at least 7,000 employees in 2020, leaving only about 30,000 newsroom jobs.

Newspapers have made drastic cuts to stay afloat in 2020 and have made further rounds of job cuts and cuts in newspaper printing days. The Salt Lake Tribune announced in October that it would stop printing and delivery of a daily newspaper and switch to a print weekly delivered by mail in 2021.

By the end of 2020, total U.S. newspaper revenues are expected to have fallen by around 70% since 2005, while newsroom employment has fallen 59%, according to the report.

Earlier this year, groups representing local newspapers and broadcast media called on U.S. lawmakers to provide direct aid, including up to $ 10 billion in government advertising.

Unlike many other companies, news organizations were already suffering before the pandemic. Employment in US newsrooms fell 25% between 2008 and 2018, the Pew Research Center reported, a loss of 28,000 jobs.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Peter Cooney and Diane Craft

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