As news events this week tragically demonstrate, severe
weather can happen at any time.
Hours before the
tornado in Oklahoma struck, I read a general advisory from the technical staff
at NAB, reminding U.S. radio and TV stations that the FCC can help broadcasters stay on the air
during weather and other emergencies. The timing was coincidental but I could
not help but note the juxtaposition.
The Radio TechCheck
newsletter (PDF), anticipating summer storm season, listed the following important
resources and encouraged stations to take advantage. (I, for one, was not aware
that station personnel can sign up for a program to facilitate priority access
to cellular networks that become congested during emergencies.)
-Check your status in the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting
System, which allows you to keep the commission and other government agencies
informed about your on-air status. “Enrolling in DIRS will allow automated
updates instead of phone calls from government officials soliciting information
on your status,” the NAB reminds us. “The DIRS program allows stations to
enlist government help in locating fuel, a generator or other vital supplies during
and after a disaster.”
Info about DIRS is here. To update your info or get started, visit here.
-Make sure your station contact info is accurate in the FCC’s Consolidated
Database System and Universal Licensing System. “The FCC relies on the information in these systems to contact
broadcasters that have been knocked off-air and may need assistance during
times of emergency,” NAB writes.
-And the FCC and the National Communications System administer
three services that help users receive priority access to
telecommunications services in emergencies. These are the Wireless Priority
Service program, which NAB says can facilitate your station’s priority access
to cellular networks that become congested during emergencies; the Government
Emergency Telecommunications Services program, “which facilitates a similar
function for congested landline networks”; and the Telecommunications Services
Priority, an FCC program that directs telecom service providers
(wireline and wireless) to give preferential treatment to users when they
need to add lines or have them restored following disruption of service,
regardless of cause. Info on these services is here.
Thanks to NAB for this reminder about programs that can help you
stay on the air and minimize the time you are disconnected from telecom services