FCC gauges emergency response

The media industry found plenty of lessons in Thursday’s East Coast blackout.

For newspeople, it was the extent of their ingenuity and resolve.

For some regulators, it was a look at a dry run for disaster.

The Federal Communications Commission and the industry task force on infrastructure security and reliability are gauging how well some best practices developed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks were implemented.

The verdict at first glance? "Pretty well," said Barbara Kreisman, the FCC's liaison to the task force.

Broadcasters and cable and satellite TV effectively put the word out, to the extent that individuals had access to electricity, to warn against travel to New York or other major metros robbed of power, about the state of the water supply and the important news that terrorism was not suspected.

Evaluation of industry performance will be vetted fully at the task force's next meeting in November and conclusions incorporated into the group's final report in March.

Consumer groups found some justification in their warnings about deregulation, both in energy and media.

"The rush to deregulate power has put profits before the public good," said Adam Goldberg, policy analyst with the Consumers Union. "Because of energy deregulation, there was no one accountable to ensure reliability and stable prices. The same is true of the airwaves. There will be no one to ensure the diversity of outlets necessary for democracy."