In a letter to Senate leadership, U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., John Kennedy, R-La., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Boozman, R-Ark., called for any future legislation supporting small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic to include help for local media outlets.

The letter specifically points to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides small businesses with financial assistance. However, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s affiliation rule, which restricts assistance to companies owned by larger entities, means that many local news outlets cannot benefit from the PPP.  Pointing out that this rule has previously been waived for hotels and restaurants, Cantwell and her colleagues pushed for the Senate to allow the same for news outlets that have suffered significant losses in advertising revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 33,000 U.S. news workers have been laid off, furloughed or are receiving reduced pay, according to The New York Times.

“Ensuring that local news outlets remain viable at this critical time is not only a matter of fairness, but is essential to public health,” the senators wrote. “Local newspapers, radio, and television stations provide important local content that keeps their communities informed. People rely on local newspapers and broadcasters to cover school and business closures, to widely communicate public health guidance, and to combat life-threatening misinformation.”