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First Informer Credentialing in Oregon Takes Shape

NAB estimates that at least a dozen states have first informer laws or related agreements in place

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management has accepted a credentialing plan that will be used to qualify broadcasters to participate in that state’s new “first informer” access program.

“First informer” measures adopted in some states allow designated broadcasters to enter areas during an emergency to maintain essential broadcast equipment. Oregon adopted its law in 2015 and tasked the Oregon Association of Broadcasters and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management to develop a procedure to credential participants. Local chapters of the Society of Broadcast Engineers assisted in developing the credentialing criteria and will coordinate training programs for applicants.

Broadcasters designated as first informers in Oregon — typically broadcast engineers or other technical broadcast staff — will be allowed to cross police barricades and travel roads within emergency areas to maintain broadcast facilities with needed fuel, food, water and equipment.

“This agreement in principal is critical to the structure of the credentialing program and ultimately will help keep broadcast stations operating during an emergency,” said John White, chief engineer for KKPZ(AM) in Portland and chair of the credential planning committee.

Eligibility requirements will be strict, White says, with credentials limited to registered professional engineers practicing in the broadcast field, Certified broadcast service providers and individuals designated as FCC chief operators by local stations, White adds.

“Eligibility is also available to SBE members, though there is no requirement to join SBE to become credentialed,” he said.

White and others plan to make presentations across the state to educate broadcast engineers on the importance of completing the credentialing process and become a first informer. There will be an application fee and participants will need to buy their own personal protection equipment.

The National Association of Broadcasters estimates that at least a dozen states now have first informer laws or at least agreements with local and state governmental agencies that allow designated broadcasters to enter secure areas during emergencies. Radio World has reported over the years on such efforts in states like Wisconsin, Illinois and Nevada.

Read more about Oregon’s plans in an upcoming issue of Radio World.

First Informer Concept Spreads (Jan. 2013)