Donald Trump is coming under increased political pressure to step in to help embattled local media companies with federal government advertising.
Some 240 US politicians – led by members of congress Debbie Dingell, Bill Flores, Marc Veasey and Fred Upton – have written to the US president urging him to direct more federal funds towards local news 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,” they said.
“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 letter, sent on Monday, called on the White House to increase local media advertising by federal agencies, and to expedite any marketing campaigns that are in the pipeline.
The group also urged Trump to incentivise businesses that receive stimulus funds to advertise in their local media.
The letter added: “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.”
Over the weekend, four senators asked that future business stimulus packages make more local newspaper, radio and television news companies eligible for assistance.
In their letter to Senate leaders, Maria Cantwell, John Kennedy, Amy Klobuchar and John Boozman noted that “up to several thousand newspapers and hundreds of local radio and television stations” were excluded from existing U.S. Small Business Administration programmes because they are owned by larger companies.
They said: “Even though these news outlets may be owned by larger groups, they operate independently.”