A sweeping stimulus bill with a price tag of nearly $1.9 trillion won final congressional approval on Wednesday, and as it heads to President Biden’s desk, the package includes elements that could directly benefit broadcasters.
The bill includes $1 billion of funding to pay for a vaccine awareness campaign. The National Association of Broadcasters says that money should be spent with local radio and television stations. “Local radio and television stations are the most trusted and most frequently accessed sources of local news and information and are therefore ideally suited for delivering critical vaccine information to the nation’s hardest-to-reach communities, including communities of color, rural communities and other underserved populations,” said NAB President Gordon Smith. He pointed out that several federal agencies already leverage broadcasters’ megaphone and believes the new funding will allow for additional stations and markets to maximize the audience reach for the pro-vaccine campaign.
The bill also includes $175 million in emergency assistance to public radio and TV stations. It says the money is to “maintain programming and services and preserve small and rural stations threatened by declines in non-federal revenues.”
Other impacts of the stimulus bill could be less direct. By flooding the economy with $1,400 stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits for months, and funding a wide variety of programs, the package could help stimulate economic activity overall – and that would conceivably boost advertising.
President Biden is expected to sign the American Rescue Plan bill on Friday.