WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security says that broadcasters will continue to be able to access their studios for operation during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as federal law defines them as “essential service providers.” This detail was part of a letter sent out by DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency that was shared by the Alabama Broadcasters Association.
“The statute allows essential service providers access to their places of operation in order to ‘respond to an emergency or major disaster,’” the letter reads. “This means that essential broadcast station personnel should be allowed access to their studios, transmitters, towers and other places of business for purposes of staying on the air.”
The DHS letter describes broadcasters’ role in sharing information about COVID-19 as critical. The provision to stay open applies to individual stations in their local communities and stations that are part of a statewide network. It also states that stations must be ready to function as part of the Emergency Alert System.
Station personnel are recommended to carry station identification with them at all times in the event they are questioned; they can also use the DHS letter.
The ABA has made the letters available to its members behind its usual password access login. Those outside of Alabama can contact their state broadcast association for copies of the letter, as every state has reportedly received them.
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