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Measure requiring 120-day notice of local media sales ready for Pritzker

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(The Center Square) – A measure prohibiting local news organizations from selling to out-of-state buyers without 120 days written notice of the sale to the state and their employees is ready to send to the governor’s desk.

Dubbed the Strengthening Community Media Act, Senate Bill 3592 would create a new local journalism scholarship through the Student Assistance Commission, subject to appropriation.

The measure would also require 120-day written notice to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the company’s employees if the local media outlet is looking to sell.

State Rep. Amy Elik, R-Alton, said she likes the idea of a local journalism scholarship but was critical of the provision requiring 120-day written notice of sale.

“It’s too long. It’s not required for other industries. I think there are issues with interstate commerce here that need to be addressed,” Elik said.

Elik worried the measure could lead to a local news outlet being devalued over that time.

“At 120 days before the date of a sale, it’s not even soup yet. Lawyers are still going back and forth setting terms. The value might not even be known yet,” Elik said. “I think the unintended consequence here is that 120-day notice is given, employees are gonna start dropping off one-by-one, leaving, you’ve just destroyed the value of that local newspaper and now that newspaper will not be able to be sold to anybody and that out-of-state buyer or anybody decides to back out, leaving them with nothing.”

The bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Dave Vella, D-Loves Park, said the measure is important to local newspapers.

“That’s why we’re requiring this 120 days. Most of the people in these big companies are coming in to buy these local news media outlets are doing it to get a monopoly so the value to them is not the actual news media, it’s just taking over another market, another market,” Vella said. “That’s why we have to protect our local news media from being taken over.”

After passing the Senate last month and the House Tuesday, the measure can now be sent to the governor for further action.

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