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Sniper Case Focuses Spotlight On Media Reliability

Sniper Case Focuses Spotlight On Media Reliability

The Washington area’s recent sniper attack reminded FCC Chairman Michael Powell of the importance of the media. He spoke during the second meeting of the Media Security and Reliability Council, the group formed to devise ways to keep terrestrial and satellite radio, terrestrial TV and satellite TV, plus cable on the air in the event of a natural disaster or further terrorist attack.
Michael Byrne of the Office of Homeland Security told the group that it’s not always clear if a disaster is a terrorist attack when it’s happening, something to keep in mind as the group moves forwards with its plans.
Since its first meeting, the MSRC has formed several subgroups to discuss how to get information to the public and what form that information should take; what should the message be and recovery plans for getting media outlets operational during and after a crisis. Separate groups are also looking at how fast equipment suppliers could turn around orders and how the digital transition would affect disaster recovery operations.
How to use the Emergency Alert System is also part of the discussion. Some radio participants believe the feds should step in and force increased participation in EAS beyond what’s currently required, buying the encoders/decoders and airing tests. Other radio participants aren’t advocating a drastic change, but do worry that EAS concerns might get overlooked as MSRC focuses on a broader picture.
The outcome for EAS is important, advocates say, because it’s going to be around for a long while before MRSC finalizes disaster plans, estimated now to be ready by the end of next year.