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Broadcasters Oppose FCC Disaster Reporting Mandate

A home with only its second story visible sits destroyed by Hurricane Katrina August 30, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
A home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina August 30, 2005 in New Orleans. (Image credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The National Association of Broadcasters is telling the Federal Communications Commission that it should not mandate participation in the Disaster Information Reporting System, a mandate that could pull staffers away from maintaining service in a natural disaster to “fill out a government form.”

The FCC is seeking input on DIRS, the Web-based system it created in 2007 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, including on whether to make the voluntary system mandatory.

In comments filed this week, the NAB said a mandate would be “unduly burdensome” for some, particularly smaller broadcasters. “Many smaller stations simply lack the bandwidth to log in, assess their operational status and complete DIRS reports in the midst of an emergency.”

The NAB also told the FCC it didn't need to loop broadcasters into the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative, saying broadcasters didn’t need a formal framework to coordinate among themselves or with the wireless nets and pointed out the cooperative is primarily about 911 emergency service.

The FCC is also considering whether to mandate power backup for communications providers. The NAB said new rules that would require stations to install generators and maintain fuel reserves would be unreasonable, with a better approach being to make sure those stations can get priority access to electricity and fuel and that station staff can access their facilities during emergencies.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.