FCC: Broadcasting Is Lifeline in Haiti

Commission's International Bureau Chief talks about medium's reach as key to getting critical info to public
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Back from Haiti, FCC International Bureau Chief Mindel DeLaTorre said that there were about 25 representatives of the telecommunications industry in country helping assess the damage and meeting with Haitian officials.

The FCC sent a team to Haiti not long after the quake to help get the communications system up and running. DeLaTorre said that the TV and radio stations in the country, still coping with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, were in particular need of help.

"The earthquake affected all of Haiti's communications infrastructure, but the damage to radio and TV stations has been particularly debilitating because they are normally staffed 24/7 so the proportional loss of life and building and equipment damage was enormous," she wrote Friday evening in a blog posting.

She talked of the importance of TV and radio as a point-to-multipoint lifeline. "A good thing about broadcasting is that it can reach so many people at once," she said. "Now more than ever, radio and TV is a critical source of information for the people of Haiti regarding location of food and water distribution, medical services, shelter, weather, etc."

She says that when she left, only six of 18 TV stations were on the air, with only intermittent operation.

DeLaTorre said the FCC is working with U.S. broadcasters to provide equipment and programming for stations having to cope with limited power, damaged facilities and an obvious lack of ad revenue to support ongoing operations.

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