Begich Supports Bill to Give Public Radio Access to Disaster Funds

Public radio and television play a crucial role during emergencies

Recognizing the important communications service public radio provides during disasters and emergencies, especially in rural Alaska, U.S. Senator Mark Begich introduced legislation today that would enable public radio stations to apply for federal disaster funds.

“Public radio is an important communication link and source of emergency information throughout Alaska,” said Begich.  “Alaska’s Public Broadcast System includes 26 radio stations that are often the sole source of emergency warnings and alerts for rural communities.  If a transmitter gets damaged in a storm or earthquake, a station should be eligible to receive emergency funds from FEMA to get back on the air.”

The bill amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and would allow public broadcasting facilities to receive certain assistance related to repairs and disaster response.  Eligibility for funding does not guarantee the facility will receive funds but simply makes them eligible to apply.

Alaska has 26 National Public Radio member stations and four public television stations which make up Alaska’s Public Broadcast System. Notwithstanding the beneficial programming offered on a regular basis, public broadcast stations are often the sole source of public alert and warning system messaging for rural communities.

“I stopped by the local radio station, KIYU, when I visited Galena this past summer to check on the community’s flood recovery efforts,” said Begich.  “The staff explained that though the station was damaged, they managed to avoid the worst of the flood and were able to continue to provide critical disaster information to Galena and surrounding communities.  We need to make sure these important community communication assets are restored after disasters.”