National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon Smith told the FCC Wednesday that he was glad they were holding field hearings on communications challenges during emergencies and pointed out that local radio and TV were a "remarkably resilient lifeline" during Superstorm Sandy.
The FCC announced the hearings last week, prompted in part by its own accounting that some 25% of cell sites in 10 states were knocked out for some period of time during the storm that battered the East Coast, and likely in part by some pressure from the Hill on both the House and Senate side. In particular, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked the FCC to come up with a new emergency response plan.
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was also vocal about the need for the FCC to gauge the resiliency of networks.
That same FCC accounting found that, by contrast, almost no broadcast facilities were off the air.
"In many cities and for millions of people in Sandy's path, broadcasters were the only source of information during those difficult days," said Smith in a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.
Smith said broadcasters want to be a part of the hearings and offered to identify potential participants.