Broadcasters volunteer for Sandy hearings


Gordon SmithThe FCC is planning field hearings to assess the impact Hurricane Sandy had on communications systems with an eye toward improving in the future. NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith happily volunteered broadcaster participation and cooperation.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Smith wrote, “I am pleased to report that local radio and television stations from the Carolinas to Maine provided a remarkably resilient lifeline during Hurricane Sandy. In many cities and for millions of people in Sandy’s path, broadcasters were the only source of information during those difficult days. Many stations provided continuous coverage of the storm, day after day, in an effort to serve their local communities.”

Citing numerous recent examples of broadcasters’ performance under duress, he said, “Service to community is the lifeblood of the local broadcaster, and we take seriously our role as first informers during times of crisis.”

Smith concluded, “NAB stands willing to work with you and your colleagues as the Commission conducts a thorough review of the communications ecosystem during Hurricane Sandy. Broadcasters are eager to participate in these field hearings, and we would be pleased to identify radio and television executives willing to participate.”

RBR-TVBR observation: When regulators are tinkering with new media, and in particular when they are seeking to expand new media at the expense of “old” media, they need to keep firmly in mind that fact that when disaster strikes, new media is often rendered useless.

Broadcasters, meanwhile, are able to soldier on through the worst of times, bringing vital, often life-saving information to citizens in distressed areas.

Everybody is for the expansion of new media. However, it is critical that the vibrant health of the broadcast medium is placed front and center of any program to encourage new media development until such time as new media is able to match broadcasting’s service during emergencies.