Push made to include local media advertising purchases by federal agencies

From Paul Boyle, News Media Alliance


This week, the House Appropriations Subcommittees marked up the Fiscal Year 2021 spending measures for Federal agencies.  Working side-by-side with the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Newspaper Association, the Alliance lobbied members of these subcommittees and their staff to include language in their subcommittee reports that would direct secretaries of various agencies to consider shifting their advertising expenditures to local broadcast stations and newspapers.

We focused our efforts on four subcommittees where agencies represent the majority of Federal government advertising:  Defense; Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; Financial Services and General Government; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.  Attached is the language that was inserted into each subcommittee report.  The language in the Defense Subcommittee report is the strongest which is positive as more than 60 percent of Federal government advertising rests with the Department of Defense.  A couple of weeks ago, both the House and Senate Armed Services Committee adopted similar language in their respective versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

While it is uncertain that the House and Senate will agree on a final appropriations package for FY 2021 in an election year, it is extremely helpful to have leverage with Federal agencies to say that moving advertising to local media outlets is a priority of the U.S. Congress.  As an example of how communications from Capitol Hill can produce results, the Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs for the Health and Human Services (HHS), Michael Caputo, has written a letter Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a champion in pushing for more government advertising in newspapers, indicating that HHS will be implementing a campaign to purchase PSAs in local media.  Sen. Manchin also pushed for the inclusion of the language in the NDAA mentioned above.

The Alliance will be following up with HHS to find out the best path to assure that newspapers are a part of this campaign.

The following members of the House Appropriations Committees deserve our appreciation for either pushing for or agreeing to include the advertising language in subcommittee reports:

Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee

Defense: Pete Visclosky (D-IN), chairman; Ken Calvert (R-CA), ranking member

Financial Services and Gen. Government: Mike Quigley (D-IL), chairman; Tom Graves (R-GA), ranking member

Labor, HHS and Education: Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), chairwoman; Tom Cole (R-OK), ranking member

Transportation and HUD: David Price (D-NC), chairman; Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), ranking member

Special acknowledgement goes to Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the full Appropriations Committee, who advocated for the inclusion of language.


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