Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Bipartisan House bill would make local print production costs forgivable under Paycheck Protection Program

On Aug. 19, "U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) filed the Preserving Readership and Information of Newspapers for Tomorrow (PRINT) Act, which would include the cost of producing local print media in the Paycheck Protection Program," reports the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota. Most local newspapers are eligible for the PPP, just like other small businesses, "but printing costs are not forgivable under the program guidelines," the Journal notes.

Calling a free press "critical to our democracy," Johnson noted that economic strains during the pandemic have slowed advertising revenue and hurt many papers. Peterson said that people rely on local newspapers for information, and that the pandemic has made that role even more important.

Rural Minnesota publisher Reid Anfinson, a Peterson constituent, also proposed federal pandemic aid for local papers in a recent op-ed for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Anfinson proposed a U.S. Department of Agriculture-run program similar to the prevented planting subsidies offered to farmers. Newspapers, he wrote, would benefit from "prevented printing" subsidies based on lost ad revenue.

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