WASHINGTON—FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, during a conference call on March 16, shared his praise for how TV and radio broadcasters have served as a source of critical information during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I’m grateful for the steps that broadcasters are taking to inform the American people about this pandemic and to educate them about the steps they can take to protect themselves and slow the spread of the virus,” said Pai.
He specifically acknowledged the NAB for making the Coronavirus Response Toolkit available to radio and TV stations, as well as Spanish-language broadcasters for providing key information for Spanish audiences.
Still, he asked broadcasters to build on their efforts, encouraging the creation and airing of public service announcements using prominent entertainment, news and sports personalities to help promote practices like social distancing.
“We need this vital message to be delivered by Americans who are familiar to different segments of our society, and broadcasters are ideally suited to the task,” Pai said.
In addition, he called on broadcasters to work with cable and satellite operators so that they can avoid service disruptions during the next 60 days. He says this could include things like short-term extensions to expiring retransmission consent agreements.
During the call, Pai also acknowledged that the coronavirus is likely to impact the post-incentive auction repack. He said that the FCC has taken action that will provide broadcasters with “appropriate flexibility” to address disruptions. Broadcasters also reportedly offered ideas for how the FCC could help them address operational challenges during the pandemic.
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