Broadcasting, both radio and TV, is the most reliable
communications service during emergencies, the National Association of
Broadcasters told the FCC on Monday in comments on the robustness of 911
service after the "Derecho" storms that pounded the D.C. area and
other parts of the East Coast in late June.
"Despite the growth of cable, satellite and the
Internet, broadcasting continues to be the primary means of communicating with
the public before and after disasters," NAB said. It told the FCC that
when access to cable or the Internet "falter" due to power outages,
broadcasters can still be on the air and accessible via batter-operated
receivers. Broadcasters also argued their service gas the built-in redundancy
most stations have generators and back-up equipment, and that its
"one-to-many" architecture makes it more robust than other platforms.
NAB cited the storms as only the most recent example of the
robustness and redundancy of broadcasts of detailed emergency info. It also
used the comments to ask the FCC to encourage wireless carriers to given
consumers better info on what mobile devices have active FM chips that allow
those phones to be broadcast receivers as well. NAB has long complained that
though the majority of those devices have an FM chip for Bluetooth, most not
been activated for radio reception.
"It is time to seriously consider steps needed to
improve consumer access to free, over-the-air radio via smartphones and other
mobile devices," NAB said. It also talked about the value of mobile DTV in
providing emergency info.
Its bottom-line message to the FCC was that when it is
talking about robust emergency communications, that conversation should include
"ways to ensure -- and expand" access to over-the-air TV and radio
The FCC launched the inquiry into communications, or the
lack of it, during the Derecho storms following complaints about 911 service