FCC Launches DIRS System for Hurricane Maria

The FCC has again activated its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), this time for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

The FCC also activated DIRS, the voluntary communications status reporting system for broadcast, cable and phone service providers, after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the latter also for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were devastated by Maria, including catastrophic flooding and what The Washington Post was describing as Puerto Rico’s power grid “effectively wiped away.”

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In fact, the FCC specified that providers who had provided info on the impact of Irma should file new reports on Sept. 21 rather than updating existing reports from Irma, then starting Sept. 22 update that new Maria report.

The FCC is accepting applications for special temporary authorities that allow broadcasters, cable, broadband and phone providers to remain on the air or get back up in ways not authorized by their various licenses.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai weighed in on the devastation and what the FCC could do to help.

“Hurricane Maria has had a catastrophic impact on Puerto Rico’s communications networks," he said. "For example, over 95% of Puerto Rico’s wireless cell sites are currently out of service. The FCC is proactively reaching out to communications providers in Puerto Rico to gather additional information about the situation on the ground and find out if there is anything that the Commission can do to assist with restoration efforts. We are also working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and providing all requested support. Unfortunately, getting Puerto Rico’s communications networks up and running will be a challenging process, particularly given the power outages throughout the island. But the FCC stands ready to do whatever we can to help with this task. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Puerto Rico.”

John Eggerton

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.