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Broadcasters Respond to Haitian Crisis

Wide range of organizations seek to help; NAB says Feb. 1 is ‘Broadcasters for Haiti Day’

U.S. broadcasters are responding to the massive earthquake Tuesday, to both cover the news and to help Haitians.

The National Association of Broadcasters announced a voluntary initiative aimed at boosting relief efforts. “NAB is working closely with the American Red Cross and the Ad Council to distribute critical earthquake relief information.” It said radio and TV PSAs featuring First Lady Michelle Obama will be available for download on its public service Web site Friday. It also asked stations to produce localized PSAs.

NAB designated Monday Feb. 1 as “Broadcasters for Haiti Day.” The association hopes radio and TV stations will “roadblock” specific times of day for fundraising, telephone banks, radiothons and telethons. NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith stated, “Broadcasters are uniquely positioned to mobilize the masses.”

The Federal Communications Commission waived a ban on fundraising by noncommercial TV and radio stations so that they can accept funds to help victims. National Religious Broadcasters President/CEO Dr. Frank Wright said NRB was one of the non-profit organizations that asked the agency for a waiver.

“The Tom Joyner Morning Show” will broadcast live from Port-au-Prince Friday and set up Internet access for citizens there to contact family and friends. The broadcast will include reports from journalists in the country, according to show executives. The affiliated site planned to set up Internet access during Joyner’s four-hour morning show to provide free online communication to displaced citizens needing to contact family and friends.

Turner Broadcasting Chairman Ted Turner donated $1 million to help with reconstruction and humanitarian needs. Also, Turner’s United Nations Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation are “supporting the immediate deployment of two emergency response teams who will work to rebuild the communications infrastructure crippled by the earthquake,” Turner said in a statement. “These teams, from the World Food Programme and the UN partner Télécoms Sans Frontières, are deploying to provide emergency communications systems that will enable relief workers to coordinate the delivery of life-saving aid and supplies.”

Radio personalities on Dial Global shows are urging listeners to text the word “Haiti” to 90999, which will donate $10 to the Red Cross relief fund. The messages will be heard on the company’s 1,900 format affiliates plus 275 stations affiliated with live shows.

NPR and commercial radio networks are airing coverage of the quake and relief and rescue efforts its aftermath.