Before lawmakers left Washington for their Christmas recess the House passed and sent to the President a measure that designates non-commercial radio and television stations eligible for federal assistance when damaged by storms or other disasters.
The President signed into law the Emergency Information Improvement Act of 2015.
After the House passed their bill, New Jersey Democrat Sen. Cory Booker stated:
“As we experienced during Superstorm Sandy, public radio and broadcast stations are an essential source of information when a disaster strikes. It is absolutely critical that we enable entities with broad communications reach to relay real-time information to the public during an emergency.”
Co-sponsor Sen. Ted Cruz said the measure will help eliminate any ambiguity in current law by allowing critical service communications facilities to quickly make necessary repairs and prepare for the next disaster.
PBS and NPR lobbied for the bill’s passage. NPR policy & Representation Mike Riksen said previous legislation did not specifically include public broadcasters, which caused problems when those stations experienced facility and equipment damage caused by natural disasters.