States Recognize Broadcasters’ Important Role as First Informers

February 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm 1 comment

Illinois and Nevada state legislatures recently passed legislation that recognizes the important role of local broadcast stations during times of crisis. The new laws, which help broadcasters stay on-air during  emergencies, reinforce that local radio and TV stations are often the only place to turn for critical information during difficult times.

First informer laws ensure individual broadcasters (key personnel such as a news anchor or cameraman) have transportation to their stations as well as the equipment needed to stay on the air to relay critical information to their communities (fuel and back-up generators). Joining Illinois and Nevada, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are the most recent states to take action to get first informers legislation passed. It is broadcasters’ hope that more states follow suit so stations can continue providing a vital lifeline for viewers and listeners.

Indeed, from the recent snow storm in New England to Hurricane Sandy, broadcasters are who communities turn to in  times of crisis. As the New Jersey Broadcasters Association’s Paul Rotella said: “No one gets the word out like free, over-the-air broadcasters.”

Wally Babbidge, station manager at WHLT in Hattiesburg-Laurel, Miss., received an email from a parent saying he was able to reach his son in time to take cover before the tornado touched down thanks to the station’s work. After the tornado, the station delivered the community information from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and informed volunteers where the Salvation Army would be serving food for those impacted by the tornado. Babbidge says that broadcasters are, “the pulse of the community when it comes to providing information people need to know about life-threatening situations.”

Tell us, do you think your state should adopt a first informer law for your local broadcasters?

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Judy  |  March 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    It is important for our local stations to remain we relay on their input to survive.


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