From the FCC (3/17/20): Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai held a conference call yesterday with television and radio broadcasters and broadcaster trade associations to thank broadcasters for their efforts to educate the American people about the coronavirus pandemic and discuss additional ways that broadcasters can help Americans stay safe and informed during the coronavirus outbreak.
“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 Chairman Pai. “Going forward, I urged them to air public service announcements featuring prominent entertainment and sports personalities, and local news anchors asking Americans to practice the social distancing that is needed to combat this pandemic. We need this vital message to be delivered by Americans who are familiar to different segments of our society, and broadcasters are ideally situated to the task.”
During the call, Chairman Pai specifically thanked the National Association of Broadcasters for making available a Coronavirus Response Toolkit to radio and television stations and sharing coronavirus-related public service announcements with them, and Spanish-language broadcasters for conveying important information in Spanish. He also asked broadcasters to work with cable and satellite operators to avoid service disruptions during the next 60 days, such as by agreeing, if necessary, to short-term extensions to expiring retransmission consent agreements. He acknowledged that the pandemic would likely have an impact on the postincentive auction repack and stated that the Commission would provide broadcasters with appropriate flexibility to address disruptions, a step that the Commission took this morning. And broadcasters offered ideas for how the FCC could help them address operational challenges during the pandemic.