The combination of “ubiquitous availability and journalistic enterprise” has made broadcasting the prime source of public information during times of stress – and despite advances in communications since broadcasting came on the scene, none of the newcomers come close to fulfilling this role. For that reason, says the National Association of Broadcasters, the FCC must assure the continued health of the medium, and get an FM chip in mobile phones.
NAB noted that you need look no further than recent headlines for proof. “Despite great advances in communications during that time – from cable and satellite technology to the rise of the Internet – local radio and television stations are, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, irreplaceable as a means to inform the public. This role was clearly evident during the tornados that devastated cities and towns in the Midwest and South this past spring. There is little doubt that but for the alerting capabilities of radio and television broadcasters in the moments leading up to those disasters, many more lives would have been lost.”
Not only are broadcasters in the habit of being “first-informers,” argued the NAB, the “one-to-many” mode of delivery, “…providing powerful signals that blanket communities, is the most robust model for delivery of information and programming that many want to access at the same time. No other model works as well. This is especially true during emergencies. Whereas wireline and wireless networks can be quickly overwhelmed by a surge in traffic, broadcast networks are infinitely scalable to additional users.”
NAB concluded, “The Commission should ensure broadcasters’ alerting capability and emergency services are maintained and, additionally, should take steps that would guarantee such alerts and information reach as many people as possible in their homes and on the go. For example, the Commission must consider the impact of possible spectrum reallocations on the deployment of mobile DTV, a service which could be used to instantly reach millions of consumers wherever they might be. The Commission should also actively promote the inclusion of broadcast chips in mobile devices.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Even on a day-to-day basis, broadcasters remain the only viable source of local electronically-delivered news for most. The local channel on our cable system is great, if you want news about what’s on the menu at one of our local restaurants. As far as what’s happening in the region, broadcasters are the only game in town.