Yesterday the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s issued two letters to help broadcasters maintain access to their facilities during these uncertain times. The letters are from John O’Connor, Director of the National Communications Coordination Branch of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The first letter indicates that the broadcasters are part of emergency infrastructure and must be able to travel during curfews and restricted travel periods. The second letter concerns access to fuel. (Broadcasters must pay) The letters are valid from March 16th through May 28th.
Importantly, federal law (42 U.S.C. § 5189e) includes radio or television broadcasting within the definition of an “essential service provider.” The statue states further that a federal agency, “to the greatest extent practicable,” shall not deny or impede access to the disaster site to an essential service provider. Thus broadcast employees should be allowed access to their facilities during the COVID-19 emergency. The complete statute can be found HERE.
We are working with the Governor Cuomo’s office and the New York Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Information to obtain similar letters and/or “passes” for stations. There is agreement that stations should not be hindered from providing vital information to the community. We are the “First Informers” connecting public health officials to the community. As of last Friday, we were told by the Governor’s office that NY State would not quarantine or force the closure of businesses. (It would limit access to restaurants, bars and meeting places) At his morning press conference, the Governor stated he had no plans to quarantine NY City or any other city. Nonetheless, this is a fluid situation and we are aware that NJ has imposed a curfew.
Employees working at stations should have some form of ID or letter indicating they work at a broadcast station. That information, combined with the letters below, should help if there are any questions. We are watching this issue closely and will communicate any changes to you immediately.
To see a copy of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security letter regarding access click HERE.
To see a copy of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security letter regarding fuel access click HERE.
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