Almost a dozen legislators took to the House floor and/or
the Congressional Record Friday to mark the beginning of hurricane season with
a shout-out to broadcasters as a lifeline in emergencies.
"Broadcasters' commitment to public service is never
more apparent than during times of crisis," said Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.),
in a statement in the Record. "During an emergency, no other service can
match the ability of full-power broadcasting to deliver comprehensive
up-to-date warnings and information to affected citizens."
The provision of local news and emergency information by
broadcasters are two of the major arguments NAB makes for why the government
should not be too eager to usher them off their spectrum in favor of wireless
A legislator from a state that knows all too well the power
of hurricanes and tornadoes, Spencer Bachus (R- Ala.), talked of the latter in
his statement. "Our broadcasters performed a great public service by
providing early and accurate forecasts about the coming storms," he said
of a rash of tornadoes that devastated the state in April 2011, adding that
"countless" lives were saved in those storms due to early warnings.
Rep. AndrÃ© Carson (D-Ind.) said broadcaster
warnings were crucial to saving lives during the violent storm that collapsed a
stage at the Indiana state fair last year. "Timely alerts from local
broadcasters enabled Fair officials to clear the Midway minutes before the
storm struck, potentially saving the lives of hundreds," he said.
The statements came not only on the first day of hurricane
season (June 1), but also as the FCC is considering how to ensure that
broadcasters who do not give up spectrum for incentive auctions can continue to
reach the entire coverage areas with a strong over-the-air signal. "Emergency
plans are only effective if they are able to communicate to the folks in
need," said Rep Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.). "They in fact underscore
the importance of our broadcasters."