2006 Summit On EAS and Emergency Communications: Local Broadcasters Are First Responders

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The purposes of the Summit are multifold: to focus on broadcasters as the lifeline of information to the American public in times of crisis; to ensure that every state in the U.S. has a robust, operable Emergency Alert System; to expand the discussion beyond initial EAS alerts to encompass follow-up emergency communications and information dissemination; to begin an examination of the security and reliability of the American broadcasting infrastructure and our cooperation with state emergency management agencies.

The National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations will host the second annual National Summit on EAS and Emergency Communications on Saturday, Feb. 25, in Arlington, Virginia. The 2006 Summit is made possible by underwriting assistance from the National Association of Broadcasters. The Summit will bring local, state and federal government officials and presidents of state broadcasters associations together to develop plans to utilize broadcasters’ unique mass audience capabilities to communicate with the public in a crisis.

The 2006 Summit on EAS and Emergency Communications will focus on broadcasters as the lifeline of information to the American public in times of crisis; to ensure that every state in the U.S. has a robust, operable Emergency Alert System; to expand the discussion beyond initial EAS alerts to encompass follow-on emergency communications and information dissemination; and to begin an examination of the security and reliability of the American broadcasting infrastructure.

The first Summit on EAS and Emergency Communications, held in February 2005, brought together strategic decision makers from every state for the first time to discuss the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Never before had all the interested parties gathered in one place for a cooperative initiative of this scope. Building on the success of the Media Security and Reliability Council at the Federal Communications Commission, the Summit was convened to begin a discussion about the current status of EAS, nationally and in the individual states; and to seek improvements in the system, such that the American public would have confidence that they could receive emergency alerts and information in an accurate and timely fashion.

One important outcome directly attributable to the 2005 Summit is the expansion of the national Primary Entry Point (PEP) network by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to include areas of the country that were heretofore underserved by this important communications link. FEMA is nationally expanding the PEP network.

Much has happened since the inaugural EAS Summit in 2005 – deadly natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires; heightened awareness of a possible avian influenza pandemic; a resultant recognition among members of Congress and other key decision-makers about the need for, and gaps in, reliable dissemination of emergency information.

Hurricane Katrina presented a microcosm and a preeminent case study of emergency communications. The current push toward expansion of the alert-and-warning dissemination network to include wireless communication, the internet, and other technologies, is long overdue; yet, in the final analysis, with electricity, telephone, and cellular communications all knocked out, it was only through a concerted multi-agency effort to keep a single broadcast radio station on the air that the people in southern Louisiana were able to receive pertinent information and instructions in the aftermath of Katrina.

Local broadcasters are the first responders to any emergency situation through their unique role in gathering and broadcasting vital live-saving information to the public. Studies show most people expect to be warned in times of danger via broadcast stations. Dissemination of emergency information through broadcasters is imperative and must become a part of state and local governments' standard operating procedures.

Location: The Summit on EAS and Emergency Communications will be held on Saturday, February 25, 2006 at the Holiday Inn - National Airport in Crystal City, 2650 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia. The Summit will start at 8 a.m. and conclude at 5:30 p.m.

Sponsors: The National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations is comprised of the broadcasters associations from the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.    

Attendees:

Chief Executive Officers of the state broadcasters associations

Chairs of the State Emergency Communications Committees

Homeland Security representatives from the state governors and/or representatives from the state Emergency Management Agencies

Representatives of federal agencies – FCC, FEMA, NOAA, DOJ, HHS, Agriculture

Representatives from non-governmental organizations

Staff from US House and Senate committees of jurisdiction

Expected Attendance: 250-300

Interviews: Please contact Suzanne Goucher, NASBA President and President of the Maine Association of Broadcasters (207) 623-3870.

Press Credentials: To attend, please contact Tom Fahy of Broadcast Strategy Group 202-337-6954.

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Thomas Fahy
Broadcast Strategy Group
202-337-6954
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