Congress has been sending out loans to small businesses, providing them funding to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. Through the small stations they own, some big broadcasters are eligible for those loans. Today, the American Television Alliance (ATVA) called on Congress to put a condition on those loans given to major broadcasters, saying that the broadcasters should be required to deliver signals without interruption, to all Americans.
“ATVA has been clear on our position – we do not believe that large broadcast conglomerates should be eligible for funding meant for small businesses in need of relief,” stated Jessica Kendust, ATVA spokesperson. “However, if Congress decides to allocate these critical tax dollars to major broadcasting groups, it should require that they not only provide their signals to all consumers, but also refrain from blacking out their signals to customers of any cable, telco, or satellite provider for three years.”
The Paycheck Protection Plan was designed to offer relief funding for small businesses with 500 employees or less. Many individual televisions stations are considered their own businesses. However, most of those stations are owned by much larger groups, including Hearst, TEGNA, Sinclair, and Nexstar.
ATVA is arguing that with so much of the money allocated for small businesses going to these large groups, there should guidelines in place to ensure that all Americans have access to the programming being created.
“Broadcasters are claiming that the service they provide is so important to the public interest that taxpayers must preserve it, even if that means providing ‘small business’ loans to multibillion dollar conglomerates,” stated Kendust. “If Congress agrees, it should ensure that such programming remain available to every American, including cable and satellite subscribers who cannot receive it over-the-air. We are not suggesting that broadcasters go uncompensated for providing their signals – but if taxpayer dollars are going to subsidize keeping them on air, then those broadcasters must ensure their signals are actually available to all viewers.”
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