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Powell: Disaster Plans on Paper Aren’t Enough

Powell: Disaster Plans on Paper Aren't Enough

“If you have a disaster recovery plan and you don’t rehearse it, you don’t have one.”
So said FCC Chairman Michael Powell to representatives of the broadcast, cable and satellite industries. And according to statistics, fewer than 1 in 10 radio stations have rehearsed disaster plans.
Powell spoke to a group gathered in Washington to present recommendations for ensuring that stations remain on the air or can quickly regain the ability to transmit a signal in the event of further terrorist attacks or natural disasters.
The group, the Media Security and Reliability Council, is patterned after a similar one serving the telephone industries.
In an assessment of radio, TV and cable outlet that have a disaster recovery plans, MSRC found that only 7% of radio, 17% of TV and 58% of cable outlets surveyed had rehearsed those plans. Powell called the figures “disturbing.”
He said it’s imperative for broadcasters to open discussions with competitors about helping each other in catastrophic situations.
Bruce Allan of Harris Broadcast Communications said the group found few reciprocity agreements in place for studios or transmitters to ensure signal availability among competitors.
“None of the manufacturers can make a transmitter overnight,” he cautioned participants.
He said the group believes there is enough equipment redundancy in place if stations would coordinate efforts.
Members plan to vote on the recommendations by Nov. 26 and conduct a workshop on the recommendations in Tampa on Dec. 2.
Still to be finalized are national level, DBS and satellite radio assessments.
Ideally, the group hopes to have the recommendations, which would be implemented by stations voluntarily, finalized by March.