Gainesville, Florida (AP) For months, the U.S. government has been quietly reviewing television stations around the country that are receiving a stamp of approval from the Trump administration.
The move could give the government a way to keep stations that do not comply with government standards from operating and potentially hamper local news coverage of President Donald Trump’s agenda.
The stations’ owners will be required to undergo background checks and comply with federal rules on how to advertise and manage their businesses.
Some stations will also have to pay for the government’s research.
The process, called “market neutrality,” is part of a sweeping push by the Trump White House to make sure the country’s media has a fair playing field, even if it means making it harder to watch news and information in the U,S.
The Trump administration is also trying to rein in some of the news media’s financial clout by giving them a much higher subsidy than they receive under the current federal media tax credit, which is worth $10.5 billion this year and next.
Trump’s move has generated concern among TV station owners, many of whom said they have faced financial losses from the administration’s regulatory and tax policies.
“It’s like a slap in the face to local television stations across the country,” said Mike Rivett, owner of a Gainesville television station.
“I don’t want to live in a world where they’re under more pressure than they are.”
In addition to the two Gainesville stations that received the stamp of support, the other Gainesville station is on the chopping block as well.
Rivetti said he had to lay off staff as he faced the prospect of losing millions of dollars in revenue.
“We’re in this fight to keep our jobs,” he said.
“There’s no way I’m going to put the station in jeopardy.”
But other TV station operators and their advocates say that even though the stamp is temporary, it could hurt them financially.
“This is a temporary stamp of disapproval.
They’re saying, ‘We’re not in compliance,'” said David Bove, the executive director of the National Association of Broadcasters.
“The government has to put an end to this.”
Federal tax credits for the broadcast media, which have been in place since 2008, have been the main driver of news coverage in the nation’s capital, where many cable news networks have also been struggling to compete with local news outlets.
In 2017, a total of 19 TV stations received a tax credit worth $14.6 million.
The government is using the stamp as a way of encouraging local news to continue broadcasting, Bove said.
In 2018, the National Conference of State Legislatures said it was “aware of no instances in which a state TV station received a stamp that would cause a financial loss to the station.”
The Associated Press did not receive any notification of the announcement from the government.
The stamp will last through Jan. 31.
The National Association for Broadcasters also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
For now, the news outlets are still paying for their news and programming in cash.
Rives, the Gainesville TV station, says he plans to pay the federal government for the next three months, with the goal of getting a full stamp of review sometime in April.
The station’s $10 million budget will be supplemented by loans, Rivettes said.
Some Gainesville media outlets are already struggling financially as a result of the tax review.
In late 2018, Gainesville radio station WBKO said its financial position was “dead in the water” and the station’s news and online operations were suffering because the government was not providing the information it had requested.
“At this point, we don’t have any cash flow to pay any of our staff,” Rivets said.
His business, which includes a television station and online service, was hit with a $6.9 million loss in 2018.
The Gainesville Business Journal reported that the TV station had a $3.8 million loss last year.
And a TV station owned by the Gainesens that has a $1 million payroll is in the midst of a $2.7 million deficit.
Bove also said he has heard from other Gainesen media outlets that are struggling financially because of the Trump Administration’s regulatory push.
“If the government doesn’t have the right to do this, what are they supposed to do?” he said, referring to the Federal Communications Commission.