Enhancing Broadcasters’ Physical Security

The Commission’s effort in order to require online public inspection data files for most television and radio transmit stations (and others) brings with it the opportunity to improve the physical security of broadcast stations. Simply put, once the community is able to view these documents online, there should be no need for public access to broadcast station premises. Given previous attacks on station employees as well as the physical risks these individuals can face, it is all the more important that the Commission clarify our rules so that in case any station makes its community inspection file available online – possibly as required by our rules or on its own initiative – it really is no longer required to make its amenities or premises open to the public. This particular positive step will improve the security of broadcast stations while improving public access to key records.

Across our nation, nearby broadcasting personnel often become actual celebrities in their communities. In many instances, individuals see or hear a station’s on-air talent on a daily or even weekly basis, and find them through the entire community performing various official plus public service functions. From on-air broadcasting and investigative reporting in order to charity fundraising and many other functions, station employees are the face of tv producers in cities, towns and localities throughout America. These efforts are part of the reason that broadcasters plus their hardworking staff are widely celebrated.

Unfortunately, the particular exposure and notoriety from this kind of high profile professions in today’s press driven environment can lead to greater security risk for station personnel. Everybody knows there are some number of unstable individuals communicating in every society, and broadcast station employees can be particularly vulnerable to risks or actual harm, including actual physical assault or worse.

American broadcasters generally take correct precautions to protect their employees, but there is room for improvement. In fact , the Commission’s public file inspection requirement clearly creates a potential weakness in broadcasters’ security efforts. When unknown individuals are allowed into a transmit facility for any purpose, but in specific, to review the public inspection file, record of potential risks can be quite lengthy, including violence. In my visit to Alaska last summer, I talked along with local broadcasters and learned of repeated attempts by one individual to remove documents from a station’s public document with the hopes of catching the particular broadcaster out of compliance with FCC rules. Just imagine if that person refused to exit or pulled a knife when the station personnel avoided the malicious act.

In an effort to address this situation, the Commission raised this precise issue as part of its latest online public document item. Specifically, in December’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we sought comment, at my request, on whether the online public file mandates, in case adopted, would result in “less requirement for the public to visit the affected entities, which will enable such entities to enhance security and minimize risks in order to employees. ” Having had a chance to review the current record on that continuing, it is disappointing that there is not overwhelming comment on this important topic. Maybe commenters were confident that the Commission would do the right thing simply by adopting such a common sense change in access to broadcaster properties without having to become extensively persuaded.

Appropriately, it would be helpful to have a more gushing record about the physical threats plus actual harms experienced by broadcast station personnel. Similarly, it would be valuable to hear whether broadcasters believe that their overall security could be improved if the Commission addressed this potential vulnerability. Simultaneously, I call on my fellow Commissioners to help to improve the safety and security of America’s broadcasters and their workers by reducing unnecessary access in case or when any efforts in order to expand the online public file proceed live.

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