Exclusive: TV Programmers Seek Pandemic Insurance from Congress

Say it would help them ramp up for fall production

An informal group of major media trade groups, unions and some high-powered sports organizations–led by Fox–is asking Congress to pass legislation that would provide “pandemic risk insurance” for businesses attempting to, well, do business during the current pandemic. 

Among those signing on to the letter were NAB, NCTA, MPA, NFL, SAG-AFTRA and NASCAR. 

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by Multichannel News. Shows such as Fox’s hit, The Masked Singer, could use such insurance, as will sports productions, if they are to start ramping back up next month for the fall, as planned, but with no guarantee a pandemic spike could spike their plans at the last minute. 

They say the “the ability of American businesses like ours to secure pandemic risk insurance will be a key factor to America’s economic recovery.” 

“Whether it be professional and collegiate sporting events, the next must-see film, a bingeworthy TV series, or a marquee Broadway production, we cannot envision any long-term recovery of these American  experiences without some form of business interruption insurance that mitigates the risks associated  with producing these popular events and programs in the COVID era now facing the country,” they wrote to Hill leadership in a letter dated Wednesday (July 1). 

The point is, according to someone familiar with the coalition, is that currently insurance companies aren’t offering pandemic riders and probably won’t absent some shove from D.C. That means that if the NFL restarts, production is planned, then a governor shuts down the stadium, or the production of an entertainment show, there is all that cost that will otherwise have to be eaten. 

He points out that Congress approved terrorism risk insurance for business re-openings after 9/11. 

Fox and company are hoping to generate some Hill activity on the issue following members’ return after July 4, according to the source familiar with the coalition.

They point out that there is already some Hill action on insurance, but want to make sure they are in the mix and signaled they are ready to work with Congress on a bill “to ensure the U.S. economy can re-start effectively and is prepared
for future pandemic-related disruptions.”

Signing on to the letter were the Motion Picture Association, Independent Film & Television Alliance,
NCTA–The Internet & Television Association, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, NASCAR, National Football League, Directors Guild of America, National Association of Broadcasters, Producers Guild of America, NPACT, Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.