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Clear Channel, Others Dispute Minot Story

Clear Channel, Others Dispute Minot Story

Ann Arnold, executive director of the Texas Association of Broadcasters, sought to correct a story that has been held out by regulators as an example of the failure of EAS and the dangers of media consolidation.
Arnold said a Clear Channel station in Minot, North Dakota did in fact have reporters at the scene of a fire when a freight train carrying rail cars filled with anhydrous ammonia derailed outside of Minot in January, 2002. Leaking ammonia exploded. The accident occurred on a Sunday night and the news station was staffed.
Problems developed when city officials tried to contact the station using old EBS equipment, not realizing the new EAS equipment had replaced that system, Arnold said.
After the disaster, Clear Channel engineers in Minneapolis traveled to Minot, went to the city government and “found the EAS equipment still in boxes,” Clear Channel SVP Engineering Jeff Littlejohn told RW Online.
The engineers installed the EAS equipment for the city and trained their personnel how to use it, he and Arnold said.
FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein referred again to the Minot incident during a panel discussion Wednesday on the relationship between local government and the media during disasters. Regulators have said that the station was unstaffed and that its personnel were hard to reach on the night of the fire.