The radio and television broadcasters of America are stepping up to serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the outset of this national emergency, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai held a call with broadcasters, and in publicly thanking them, said, "We’ve seen time and again that broadcasters’ efforts to keep their communities informed during emergencies help save lives, including when it comes to this pandemic."
Broadcasters have been running public service announcements (PSAs) on the pandemic, airing educational programming to help students and educators with distance learning, holding fundraisers for charities and small businesses, and expanding local news to cover the impact of COVID-19 on communities across the country. Throughout the pandemic, broadcasters have also implemented dramatic yet necessary changes to their operations to abide by social distancing guidelines, protect the health and safety of their staffs, and lead by example.
Some of the broadcaster efforts include, but are not limited to:
ABC: Shooting PSAs on social distancing and airing them across the country, replacing an afternoon talk show with a COVID-19 program featuring a medical expert, holding a telethon in Los Angeles to support a local pandemic relief fund, launching a daily online program on coronavirus simulcast on radio, and launching a campaign to support non-profits providing essential services in Greater Philadelphia.
Capitol Broadcasting’s WRAL-TV: Raising $275,000 for a relief fund for North Carolina restaurants and hotel workers affected by layoffs due to COVID-19.
CBS: Partnering with iHeartMedia and the Los Angeles Chargers to raise over $1.6 million for a fund to help Los Angeles students and families impacted by the coronavirus, donating protective personal equipment and medical supplies to various hospitals, donating meals to staff at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, supporting food drives in various cities, and providing information to Dallas viewers on open job opportunities.
Circle City Broadcasting: Partnering with Indianapolis public schools to produce and broadcast academic lessons five days a week for grades K-8 for the remainder of the school year.
Ellington Broadcasting’s WHCQ-LD: Airing full-length County Supervisor meetings on local coronavirus response and airing live church services.
Entercom: Holding an all-day telethon in Austin, Texas, to support a local COVID-19 charitable fund, launching a fund to support restaurants in Massachusetts impacted by closures, and launching a daily live show focused on promoting mental health during the pandemic.
Faith Communication’s KSOS-FM: Donating 23,000 meals to families in the Las Vegas area that rely on free and reduced-price school lunches.
Fox: Partnering with iHeartMedia and raising $8 million for coronavirus relief with a virtual concert, raising $80,000 for a local food bank in Orlando, Florida, and offering free online access to television stations.
Gray: Creating a COVID-19 tracker for local newscasts, launching a nightly COVID-19 newscast across all stations, providing educational programming and digital resources to schools in Shelby County, Tennessee, to support distance learning, helping raise money for a food bank in southern Wisconsin, providing free airtime to local businesses in Columbia, South Carolina, and airing PSAs and programming in Lexington, Kentucky and Madison, Wisconsin on social distancing, living in quarantine, healthy practices, and supporting local businesses.
Hearst: Airing PSAs in Boston, Massachusetts to support the Inner City Scholarship Fund’s virtual dinner gala.
Heartland Broadcasting: Offering free ads and messages to businesses and organizations impacted by shutdowns.
Hispanavisión TV: Airing PSAs from the local Yakima County Health District and airing religious services from congregations impacted by stay-at-home orders.
iHeartMedia: Partnering with Fox and raising $8 million for coronavirus relief with a virtual concert, creating a hotline in Los Angeles, California to connect those in need of services and supplies due to the pandemic with local businesses and non-profits able to help, and airing information in Charlotte, North Carolina, on resources available to those in need as well as information on local restaurants and businesses.
Image Video Teleproductions: Airing all public service announcements available on COVID-19, informing viewers on free lunch program locations for students and others in need, and simulcasting a morning radio show to inform viewers on the pandemic.
JB Media Group’s WXWZ-LD: Airing locally-produced PSAs about washing hands, social distancing, how to identify symptoms, and where to get medical assistance.
Look TV: Offering free airtime to any education, arts, healthcare, or government official who needs to get information to its audience.
Meredith: Partnering with local businesses in Phoenix to connect job seekers with available positions, including work-from-home jobs.
MyNetworkTV: Airing grade-specific public school lessons in Washington, D.C. to help children with distance learning.
National Faith Network: Launching new programming with pastors and physicians to discuss prevention and care during the pandemic, including taking live questions from the audience.
National South East Asian Network: Producing and airing five hours of daily coverage on the pandemic featuring interviews with local non-profits and President Modi of India.
NBC Universal: Creating a series of “The More You Know” COVID-19 PSAs featuring network stars and airing primetime specials across broadcast and cable channels on the coronavirus pandemic, expanding local news across various markets, launching a daily morning news special on the coronavirus and launching a “News 4 Kids” program in Washington DC aimed at helping children understand the pandemic, featuring educators, pediatricians, and mental health experts.
Nexstar: Launching campaigns in various markets to support local restaurants impacted by COVID-19, donating and raising money for food banks in Illinois, launching a daily coronavirus stream available online and to all stations, and airing a concert in Greensboro, North Carolina, to support local musicians unable to perform gigs due to the coronavirus.
PBS: Partnering with WGBH-TV in Boston to broadcast a daily, five-hour learning service with lessons for students in grades 6-12, providing distance learning tools on PBS Kids and PBS LearningMedia, and launching special programming on the coronavirus.
Saga Communication’s WMXZ-FM: Launching a new morning segment profiling restaurant and bar workers laid off due to coronavirus and providing listeners with information on how to send them money electronically.
Telemundo: Launching a “Quédate en casa” media campaign featuring network stars, hosting a Spanish-language teleconference townhall to provide information on resources available to the Latino community, and providing on its platform “El Poder de Ti” daily livestreams, preventative tips, infographics, and culturally-relevant information.
Townsquare: Airing special town halls in Trenton, New Jersey, featuring medical experts and advocates for local businesses.
Univision: Launching a “Juntos en Casa” campaign to provide information on COVID-19 and promote social distancing, increasing news programming, launching a morning Q&A segment with Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Juan Rivera, producing and airing PSAs and special children’s programming, and focusing Sunday night programming on telling the stories of Hispanics impacted by COVID-19 and providing community-specific information, advice, and resources.
Wallingford Media Group’s WBON-TV: Producing local programming to keep Appalachian Kentucky informed on the coronavirus and coordinating with local community leaders, emergency agencies, health departments, and school officials to get important information out at one time.
More information on broadcasters' coronavirus response is available online at the National Association of Broadcasters website:
- NAB’s coronavirus toolkit: https://www.nab.org/coronavirus/
- NAB’s tools in Spanish: https://www.nab.org/coronavirus/spanish.asp