Several members of Congress recognize the value of over-the-air broadcasting in providing early warnings before disaster strikes and aid afterwards. The lawmakers also support radio’s efforts to get FM chips embedded or enabled in mobile devices.
The support comes before a planned House hearing on the future of audio.
Nine Representatives made House floor statements addressing disaster preparedness and the role local radio and television stations play as first-informers during times of emergency. They are: Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Billy Long, R-Mo., Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., Ted Poe, R-Texas, Laura Richardson, D-Calif., David Scott, D-Ga., Joe Wilson, R-S.C. and Todd Young, R-Ind. Representatives Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., Andre Carson, D-Ind. and Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y. submitted similar statements to the Congressional Record.
Representatives Carolyn McCarthy and Andre Carson specifically addressed the importance of embedding or enabling FM in mobile devicesfor emergency preparedness. “Emergency plans are only effective if they are able to communicate to the folks in need. They in fact underscore the importance of our broadcasters. With that in mind, I’ve constantly supported efforts by both the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission to explore the potential benefits of including radio tuners in mobile telephones,” stated McCarthy. She urged Congress to act quickly “to consider any and all opportunity that would facilitate communication during emergencies.”
NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith thanked the lawmakers, saying: “With the start of hurricane season upon us, we thank these members of Congress for recognizing the critical role that stations play in keeping citizens safe and informed. Indeed, no technology can replicate broadcasting’s reliability in reaching mass audiences and providing a lifeline support in emergency and disaster situations.”
Rep. Bilirakis, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, recently held a “roundtable” on Capitol Hill with members of the broadcast, cable and wireless industries to discuss how to work together to enhance the current system of alerting and informing the maximum amount of citizens in times of crisis.