Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN-01) and a bipartisan group of his colleagues sent a letter to President Trump urging that any federal advertising dollars associated with new federal programs relating to the COVID-19 pandemic be directed to local media outlets.

“Local news and information on radio, television and newsprint is more in demand than ever, yet local media outlets are experiencing catastrophic losses in the advertising revenue that allows them to continue investing in providing that news to the public. This national emergency has caused a near halt to local business activity and in turn, the regular and vital advertising they purchase from local media. Without advertising revenue, local media outlets cannot survive,” the lawmakers wrote.

“When we face our largest challenges, one of our greatest needs is access to reliable news and information. Congressman Hagedorn’s signature shows his support for local news and information to keep our communities safe. On behalf of our Minnesota Broadcasters, I thank Representative Hagedorn for his continued help and backing for the industry and communities they serve,” said Wendy Paulson, President, Minnesota Broadcasters Association.

“It’s an honor for KTTC to serve Southeast Minnesota, in both good times and in more difficult times like we’re all currently experiencing. But there’s no way we could do it all without the support of our viewers, our local business community, our dedicated staff, and our elected officials. There is no doubt we will get through this ordeal, together,” said Bryce Caldwell, Vice President and General Manager, KTTC Television Inc.

Read the full letter below:

Dear President Trump,

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting local communities across our nation in unprecedented ways. All Americans are attempting to understand the full measure of this crisis, even as it continues to evolve on a daily basis. As in many of our nation’s most challenging times, the public turns to free and local media for life-saving information and breaking news, because local radio, television and newspapers are still the most trusted sources in times of emergency and disaster. We urge you work with us in ensuring that local media can continue to inform communities, even as these outlets face unprecedented economic distress.

Local news and information on radio, television and newsprint is more in demand than ever, yet local media outlets are experiencing catastrophic losses in the advertising revenue that allows them to continue investing in providing that news to the public. This national emergency has caused a near halt to local business activity and in turn, the regular and vital advertising they purchase from local media. Without advertising revenue, local media outlets cannot survive.

We believe that Executive Branch agencies have a powerful opportunity to support local media and promote public awareness by directing that federal spending on advertising be prioritized for local media outlets. Specifically, we encourage federal agencies to put into action today already funded campaigns to achieve certain public objectives as well as potential promotions of the economic stimulus programs provided for by the CARES Act and other recent legislation. We urge you to:

1)  Direct your Cabinet secretaries to review any resources intended to be used for advertising campaigns and have them expedite such activities with local media outlets;
2)  Direct federal agency advertising dollars for existing and new federal programs where community outreach is needed for spending with local media, including those serving minority and rural communities; and
3)  Incentivize a portion of stimulus funds provided to businesses for their recovery efforts for advertising on local media.
 
To get America moving again and strengthen our communities in the midst of this evolving crisis, we must be creative and use all available tools. Advertising plays an incredible role in local economies, and its importance to the sustainability of local broadcast stations and newspapers cannot be overstated. We thank you for your efforts so that Americans may continue to rely on the sources of local information they trust the most.