74 U.S. senators want federal ad dollars to provide COVID-19 relief for local news

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U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (D-NJ) continue to lead the charge to get local news COVID-19 relief, joining 72 other senators in penning a letter to the Office of Management and Budget calling for federal advertising dollars to help the cause.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Local newspapers and broadcasters have been particularly hit hard financially due to decreased revenue typically derived from advertising sales. This comes at a time when they have increased coverage of daily news, alerts and educational programs,” the senators wrote to Acting OMB Director Russell Vought.

“As Congress and the administration continue to work to keep small businesses operating and employees on the payroll through the Paycheck Protection Program, we believe there is an opportunity for the federal government to provide relief to our local newspapers and broadcasters.”

The senators also noted that several federal agencies, including the U.S. Census Bureau, maintain advertising accounts to provide public notices and information to citizens.

They contend that the federal government can disseminate that information through local media and asked OBM to also allow flexibility for state and local governments to use federal funds to get their messages out through local press.

“We strongly believe that local newspapers and broadcasters play an integral role during the COVID-19 pandemic and making sure that stations are able to continue operating during this time is critical,” the letter continued.

“We therefore encourage the Office of Management and Budget to work with federal agencies throughout the government to increase advertising in local newspapers and on broadcast stations in order to help ensure they are able to continue to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Earlier this month, Menendez and Booker called for funding to support local journalism and media in any future COVID-19 relief package.

The other senators who signed the letter are as follows:

Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Steve Daines (R-Wyo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Angus King (I-Maine), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Cindy Hyde Smith (D-Miss.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).