Democratic congressional reps James Clyburn, Barney Frank, Charles Rangel and a bunch of others wrote a letter to Treasury Secretatry Timothy Geithner asking him to make it easier for minority-owned local TV and radio stations to borrow money.
The letter suggests Treasury could set up a credit facility specific to the industry, similar to the government’s efforts to support auto suppliers, or possibly set up a program for bridge financing and government-backed loans until the economy improves.
The congressmen say the TV and radio stations are “fundamentally sound operations” that just need a little help while the recession keeps car makers and car dealers from advertising like they used to.
The letter does not mention that local TV and radio stations have also, in recent years, lost much of their business to online advertising, which is a new and innovative medium instead of an expensive old one. Online ad spending passed radio ad spending for good way back in September 2007. During the same month — before the current recession started — TV advertising shrank 2.4% while Internet advertising grew 17.7%.
You can tell the congressmen know their bailout is bad for business, because they end up saying it is important not for commercial reason, but for cultural ones. They write that “while many jobs are at stake, a more important principle — the government’s fundamental interest in promoting a diversity of voices, including service to underserved communities — is severely threatened.”
We don’t think any media should get a bailout — not even our precious newspapers — but if there’s going to be one to promote “a diversity of voices, including service to underserved communities,” why don’t we start with social network Black Planet or blog for hispanics Guanabe instead of ones for companies based on out-dated tech and irredeemably damaged business models?
Other reps who signed the letter include: Reps. Bobby Rush (Ill.), Edolphus Towns (N.Y.), Maurice Hinchey (N.Y.), Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) and Bennie Thompson (Miss.).