NAB to FCC: Broadcasters provide lifeline during DC storms


NAB / National Association of BroadcastersNAB President and CEO Gordon Smith sent a letter 7/3 to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski about local radio stations providing lifeline information during and after last Friday’s devastating storms in the DC area. While wireless networks have experienced widespread outages since Friday, many local broadcasters provided wall-to-wall news coverage of the storm’s aftermath.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Mr. Chairman,

I write to thank you for gathering broadcast and wireless industry representatives together on July 20 to discuss the merits of voluntary inclusion of radio chips in mobile devices.

This issue could not be more timely in light of Friday night’s catastrophic storms that caused massive power outages from Ohio to Washington, DC and left tens of thousands of citizens without critical Internet, landline and cellphone connections.

These types of stories raise serious public safety questions about keeping Americans safe in times of emergency. Fortunately, many local radio and television stations have filled a communications void with timely reporting during the crisis. I’ve been particularly impressed with lifeline coverage by Washington, DC’s all-news radio stations that have dedicated considerable resources getting vital information to residents in the eye of the storm. Like their TV brethren, local radio stations are creatively engaging audiences on multiple platforms — including social media outlets like Twitter — to keep DC area residents informed.

This weather emergency again highlights the fact that broadcasters’ “one-to-everyone” transmission architecture delivers a robust and reliable signal to hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously, with little or no risk of a service disruption. And that’s why NAB believes the time is right for a serious discussion about the voluntary activation of radio chips in mobile phones. We know there is huge consumer demand for this feature, and we know the cost is minimal.

In a time of deadly tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires, it just makes common sense to include a local, over-the-air radio feature in as many mobile devices as possible. Even FEMA administrator Craig Fugate agrees that local radio and TV “are going to probably be one of the best sources of information during the crunch time” of evacuation in a life or death situation.

Thank you again for hosting the July 20 meeting. Broadcasters stand ready to work with you and other FCC members to encourage the voluntary inclusion of radio chips in all mobile devices.


Gordon H. Smith

President and CEO

CC: The Honorable Robert M. McDowell

The Honorable Mignon Clyburn

The Honorable Ajit Pai

The Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel