WASHINGTON, DC – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) today urged Congress to reject a National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) proposal to allow television station conglomerates to qualify for coronavirus relief intended for small businesses.
Congress established the new Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) to provide relief to small businesses with fewer than 500 employees suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the NAB wants to change the rules to allow large station groups like Hearst, TEGNA, Sinclair, and Nexstar to participate. “The PPP was designed by Congress to provide relief to small businesses in need, and is already stretched beyond its initial funding limitations” stated Jessica Kendust, ATVA spokesperson. “For NAB to suggest that even its very largest members be eligible for these funds once replenished, is not only misguided, but harmful to those who need it the most.”
NAB now wants to change the criteria so that each individual television station constitutes its own “business” for eligibility. However, the vast majority of television stations are not individually operated but are instead owned and controlled by large station groups.
Recently, these large station groups convinced the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to eliminate a rule requiring television stations to maintain physical presence and significant personnel in their local communities. Under NAB’s proposal, not only would large conglomerates qualify for loans intended for struggling small businesses, they would do so even in markets where they have no staff and essentially operate by remote control.
“These conglomerates are obviously not ‘small businesses,’ nor are they simply collections of stations operating independently. In reality, corporate owners do—and by law must—control every material aspect of the stations they own and operate,” stated Kendust. “ATVA members have come to understand this reality through hard experience. When negotiating for the rights to carry television stations owned by these conglomerates, they negotiate not with individual stations but rather the large corporate headquarters of companies like Hearst, TEGNA, Sinclair, and Nexstar – resulting in increasingly sky-high retransmission consent fees for consumers. I urge our leaders in Congress to see through NAB’s misguided proposal and to direct PPP funds to the small businesses they were intended for. ”
The American Television Alliance (ATVA) brings together an unprecedented coalition of consumer groups, cable, satellite, telephone companies, and independent programmers to raise awareness about the risk TV viewers face as broadcasters increasingly threaten service disruptions that would deny viewers access to the programs they and their families enjoy.