A provision that could be included in the latest federal relief legislation will expand the Paycheck Protection Program to include more local news outlets that have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic and economic meltdown.
The measure, as announced on Monday by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, would make newspapers and TV and radio stations that are part of larger parent companies eligible for the forgivable loans.
The previous iteration of the PPP loan -- which is forgivable if spent over six weeks on payroll and utilities -- did not apply to media entities that have large parent companies, a investor or part of a franchise not deemed to be a small business by the federal government.
Newspapers, in particular, have been hammered by the economic trouble brought on by the pandemic. Local advertisers, often restaurants, bars and other small businesses, have put a halt to advertising as they close down.
Local news employees have lost their jobs or received unpaid furloughs to prevent layoffs amid one of the most important news stories in a generation.
“Local news outlets are the glue that keeps communities in Upstate New York informed and stitched together, and during these uncertain times, they are more vital than ever,” Schumer said. “Each day, Upstate New York’s local newspapers, television and radio stations give millions of New Yorkers up-to-date information on the pandemic; it’s local impact; and what they need to know to get through and begin to rebuild."
Local news had already faced a troubled future amid declining print advertising and digital advertising that did not sufficiently supplement that lost revenue.
And, at the same time, newspaper companies have merged, with GateHouse Media acquiring Gannett and Lee Enterprises purchasing the chain of newspapers from Warren Buffet that included The Buffalo News.