Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she will introduce legislation that would federally recognize the role of local broadcasters in responding to disasters.
Co-sponsored by Sen. Stevens, R-Alaska, the First Response Broadcasters Act of 2007 would take steps to help ensure that local radio and television stations are able to broadcast essential info to the disaster area without interruption.
The bill would designate broadcasters as first responders, and as such, entitled to federal supplies of “fuel, water and emergency supplies so that you can stay in the disaster zone,” she told NAB attendees.
Fuel procured by Mississippi broadcasters was confiscated following Hurricane Katrina, inhibiting efforts by stations, dependent on generators for electricity, to stay on the air, she said.
The Landrieu-Stevens legislation also directs FEMA to expedite access to the disaster area by broadcast engineers to restore transmitters and other key facilities and infrastructure.
To better protect critical-to-air facilities, the bill establishes a $10 million Broadcast Disaster Preparedness Matching Grant Program. The money could be used to protect, upgrade or enhance facilities and infrastructure.
Landrieu thanked broadcasters for helping victims on the Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita devastated the area in 2005.
“Many of you have been down (here) and put your own boots on, or sent your people down. The story is not done. We have to continue to tell people what happened.”