Just over three weeks after the National Association of Broadcasters made a series of COVID-19 PSAs available, radio and television stations in the U.S. have donated airtime estimated at more than $42 million to the campaign. Since the initiative’s launch on March 12, more than 175,000 PSAs, aimed at helping educate Americans about preventing the spread of the virus, have aired on broadcast TV and radio, the NAB says.
“The response from America’s local broadcasters to this extraordinary crisis is truly incredible,” NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said in a news release. “From donating unprecedented airtime for PSAs to promoting struggling small businesses to covering the latest public health developments, I am so proud of radio and TV broadcasters for their support of local communities. As our nation faces these challenging times, broadcasters will continue serving as ‘first informers’ by reporting, comforting and educating.”
On March 12, the NAB began distributing the PSAs via the NAB Coronavirus Response Toolkit, an online resource to help broadcast radio and TV stations accurately cover the coronavirus pandemic and prepare for the impact on their staff, community and businesses. The toolkit provides downloadable PSAs and scripts in English and Spanish. It also includes resources to help local broadcasters prevent and address COVID-19 at their stations as well as editorial guidelines to help journalists combat misinformation and provide accurate and timely coverage of the virus.
NAB also recently launched a compilation of stories about broadcasters’ efforts to support local small businesses facing hardships.
In addition to NAB’s PSA campaign, many radio and TV stations have produced and aired their own public service ads, which are not included in the statistics the NAB announced Friday. Also not included are airings of PSAs produced by Ad Council in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai last month urged broadcasters to air the PSAs during a March 16 conference call with the heads of the broadcast trade associations. During the call, Pai specifically thanked the NAB for making the toolkit available to radio and television stations. Republicans on the House Energy & Commerce Committee also praised the broadcast industry’s education efforts.