NAB to FCC: Compulsory DIRS Reports Are The Wrong Focus


Would mandatory Disaster Information Reporting System reporting help or hinder broadcasters in the event of an emergency? This is the question raised by the NAB in comments on the FCC’s proposal to require just that, should the worst occur.

The FCC’s Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, originally released in January, suggests requiring that all broadcast stations file reports in DIRS and the Network Outage Reporting System when activated.

DIRS reporting is currently voluntary for broadcasters, and NORS reporting is not required.

NAB argues that these mandatory filings would reverse the successful voluntary approach, impose new obligations, and hinder broadcasters’ ability to serve the public during emergencies.

In their comments, NAB emphasizes that broadcasters’ primary focus during disasters should be providing critical, life-saving information, and mandatory reporting could distract from this mission without discernible public benefit. They argue that broadcasters typically do not rely heavily on the FCC during emergencies, and mandatory DIRS and NORS reporting would unnecessarily burden broadcasters, especially small and medium-sized stations with limited staff.

NAB highlights that voluntary DIRS reporting has been effective and that many broadcasters choose not to file DIRS reports because they rarely result in government actions that help maintain or restore service. They also point out that additional data from mandatory reporting would be of limited value as relatively few broadcast stations go down during disasters.

Instead of more reporting requirements, NAB suggests the FCC should focus on steps that would actually help stations, such as facilitating access to fuel, cellular service, and facilities during disasters. They also propose simplifying the DIRS reporting process and making it mobile-friendly to minimize the burden on broadcasters.

NAB argues that the current voluntary DIRS system already provides sufficient information and that mandatory reporting would not significantly improve the FCC’s situational awareness or affect emergency authorities’ dissemination of warnings.


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