At the FCC’s field hearing on Hurricane Sandy’s effects on local communications systems, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) hailed broadcasters’ heroic efforts to keep citizens informed, and reiterated his call for strong local broadcast service for his state.
After discussing the vulnerabilities of other communications systems, he stated, “Finally, disasters also highlight the importance of local news coverage and why New Jerseyans must get information about their own communities from stations—both television and radio—dedicated to their coverage. Local radio, especially, was a lifeline for those without power, and I applaud everyone who worked around the clock to make sure that residents received timely and accurate information. Moments like these highlight why I continue to fight for improved local coverage in New Jersey.”
New Jersey has the misfortune to be a relatively compact state sandwiched in between two of America’s largest media markets, New York City on the north side of the state and Philadelphia on the south.
Lautenberg has been complaining for years about what he believes is the New York focus of his Fox Television’s WWOR-TV Secaucus NJ.
RBR-TVBR observation: When MVPDs complain about paying for retransmission consent, they need to be reminded that the only strong source of critical local emergency information they have are local broadcast stations.
Oh, sure, The Weather Channel has its place in the coverage, but as a resident of a frequent-hurricane location, this writer can attest that once the storm has moved on or dissipated, TWC’s coverage either moves on or dissipates with it, leaving a void during the also-critical recovery period. Luckily, local broadcasters are still on the job long after the storm has gone away.
And it goes without saying that local broadcasters can get the message out even when the MVPDs they are carried on are knocked out of commission.
Whatever MVPDs think, legislators and regulators should definitely keep this in mind the next time MVPDs come asking for intervention in their favor.