Ohio considering ban on 911 broadcasts


When citizen makes a 911 emergency call, it is not private – it is considered to be a matter of public record. But legislation is being considered in Ohio that would not only make broadcast of a recorded 911 call illegal, it would append a hefty fine to such a broadcast.

According to MariettaTimes.com, recordings of such calls would still be a matter of public record, but if they are rebroadcast on a radio station, television station or posted intact in the internet, the airing/posting party would be vulnerable to a fine of $10K.

The strongest argument in favor of the prohibition is that it may inhibit some calls from being made in the first place, particularly if the would-be caller is reporting a crime and fears the possibility of retribution.Ohio considering ban on 911 broadcasts

Others cite respect for the privacy of the caller.

On the other hand, if the public can find out who the caller is, there is no privacy being protected. And those same media outlets that would not be able to air a recording of the call would be allowed to read an exact transcript of the call over the air or internet.

RBR/TVBR observation: If the law allows any news outlet or private citizen to procure and publicize a transcript of a 911 call, what is really being protected by banning broadcast of the actual recording? Either Ohio should protect the caller’s privacy and take the calls off public record (which we would oppose), or it should leave matters the way they are.