Rotella: “First Responder” Status Is “Imperative”
The head of a
major state broadcasters association describes as “imperative” a proposed
action in his state’s legislature.
Rotella, CEO of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, is talking about draft
legislation for a program similar to what is in place in Nevada and Illinois. It
would treat the staff of broadcast stations as “first informers” who will be
assured access to their facilities even, and especially, in times of crisis
like Hurricane Sandy. In New Jersey the draft legislation uses the term “first
“We have ‘Essential Personal’ ID cards that
allow broadcasters access to the roadways during times of emergency, but for a
radio tech to be stopped by local police two blocks away from a studio or
transmitter with needed gasoline or replacement parts for broadcasting
equipment — that’s just too frustrating,” Rotella wrote in the association’s
Wisconsin broadcasters launched a credentialing program for
station staff some years ago, as RW has reported, and that appears to have started
a movement among other states. Efforts to codify such programs were successful in
Nevada and Illinois.
Broadcasters cite radio’s role
during emergencies for the importance of making sure that trained staff can access studios,
transmitters, generators and fuel supplies, for instance.
Rotella told RW he’s working with Senate, Assembly
and administration officials, as well as law enforcement, in hopes of finding
suitable legislative language. “The NJBA legislation provides for broadcasters
to be designated as first responders during times of emergency and hazardous
weather events to allow trained engineers and essential personnel to get to
stations, towers, generators and other equipment vital to keeping the citizens
of New Jersey informed in times of crises. We have had a lot of interest
in bipartisan co-sponsors.”
He said New Jersey
drafts have been modeled after the successful legislation in Nevada.
First Informer Concept Spreads (Jan. 2013)
Illinois ‘First Informer’ Broadcasters Act Signed Into Law