New York Broadcasters Testify at FCC’s Superstorm Sandy Hearing

Dave Davis, President and General Manager of WABC-TV, represented the New York State Broadcasters Association at the FCC’s Hurricane Sandy Hearings held in New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey on February 5th.  Chairman Julius Genachowski, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner Jennifer Rosenworcel and Commissioner Agit Pai attended the hearings.

The hearings began in Manhattan, with Chairman Julius Genachowski recognizing the close cooperation between the FCC and the New York broadcasters during the storm.

On the afternoon panel in Hoboken,  Mr. Davis provided a detailed overview of broadcasters’ efforts during Superstorm Sandy.  He observed that broadcasters were the only communications system operating during the storm, because we have back- up generator power.   He noted that broadcasters used multiple digital platforms and social media to get emergency messages out to the community.  The key however, was to make sure the content sent over social media was reliable.  He noted that WABC has invested millions of dollars creating the journalistic infrastructure to evaluate information and send out reliable information on television and through social media.   For a copy of Mr. Davis’ Testimony click HERE.  The FCC will be archiving the hearing on the web which you can view HERE.

John Hogan, Chairman and CEO, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Division also represented New York and New Jersey Broadcasters at the hearing.  He explained in detail the pre-storm planning taken by Clear Channel throughout the region which enabled radio stations to remain on the air during the storm.  He also noted the radio audience increased dramatically on the night of the storm. Mr. Hogan made a special point to note that it was important to have radio chips in mobile phone during emergencies.  For a copy of Mr. Hogan’s Testimony click HERE

While the afternoon panels where highlighted by our success in remaining on the air, the morning sessions focused on the problems with wireless and wireline communications.  Approximately 25% of cellphone service we out in New York City.  All of the panelists noted that wireless communications relied on the power grid.  When the power went out the system went out.  Of course, because broadcasters’ have their own back-up generators we are more reliable and remained on the air.