The feds granted a trio of news outlets millions of dollars in small-business rescue loans as the coronavirus crisis battered the media industry.
The Seattle Times, the Tampa Bay Times and political news website Axios received multimillion-dollar, government-backed loans through the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which aims to help small businesses retain jobs amid the pandemic.
The Seattle Times Co. got $9.9 million that will reportedly help its eponymous newspaper avoid laying off workers and cutting hours during the crisis, according to company president and chief financial officer Alan Fisco.
“This is a lifeline for us for the next 60 days,” Fisco told the paper Tuesday. “This gives us a little bit of breathing room.”
Times Publishing Company, the parent of the Tampa Bay Times and other local newspapers and magazines, got an $8.5 million loan as its flagship paper reportedly grappled with a 50 percent drop in advertising revenue.
The company has brought a few staffers back from furlough and ended a pay cut for most employees a month sooner than planned, company chairman and CEO Paul Tash said in a note to readers. The Times first reported on the loan last week.
“To weather the crisis, we have already taken some strong measures, and this support gives us more time for the economy to recover before we would have to do more,” Tash said.
Virginia-based Axios qualified for a loan “just shy of $5 million,” CEO Jim VandeHei said Wednesday. The money will help the company avoid layoffs and pay cuts for its staff of nearly 200 people for the rest of the year, he said. Axios’ financial backers include venture capital firm Greycroft Partners and WndrCo, an investment firm co-founded by media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg.
“We have taken a financial hit like other small businesses,” VandeHei wrote on Axios’ website. “Our physical event business is gone until the crisis subsides, and some ad buyers are pulling back to measure the economic fallout.”