FCC Expert Panel Commends Public Television’s Public Safety Datacasting Capabilities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 19, 2018 - America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) president and CEO Patrick Butler issued the following statement today on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Communications, Security Reliability and Interoperability Council's (CRIC) report on the comprehensive re-imagining of emergency alerting:
“America’s Public Television Stations applaud the FCC and its working group for their comprehensive report on the future of emergency alerting. We are appreciative that this report recognizes the enduring value of local public broadcasting stations and PBS for their critical role in protecting communities and keeping Americans safe.
“As the report notes, public television plays a key role in keeping Americans safe by using datacasting to communicate with the public and first responders and supporting the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts. Public television’s universal service mission ensures that these emergency communications are available to Americans in rural and underserved areas. In addition, the report recognizes the great potential for public television to use ATSC 3 to enhance emergency alerting.
“First responders are partnering with public television stations to use the broadcast spectrum to enhance public safety communications through datacasting, enabling first responders to send critical information and video to each other during times of crisis. We are proud of the emergency alerting services being provided by local stations across the country, including all 12 public television stations in Ohio, as well as Maine Public, Alabama Public Television, Houston Public Media, Vegas PBS, UNC-TV, Twin Cities PBS and more.
“America’s Public Television Stations are working with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and public television stations on a multi-year project to develop a robust high-speed data delivery capacity for time-sensitive earthquake early warnings in California’s most populated areas. As recent public opinion research found, the overwhelming majority of Americans want public television to play a role in providing earthquake early warnings. Specifically, 93 percent of Americans want the public broadcasting system to help provide an early warning when an earthquake strikes, and 96 percent of Californians agree.
“The extraordinary technological achievement of ATSC 3 will enhance public safety communications and interoperability capabilities for law enforcement. Public television is already experimenting with the new services this broadcast standard makes possible. The FCC has recently granted an experimental license to WKAR, licensed to Michigan State University, to test various potential applications of the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard. WKAR’s new NextGen Innovation Lab will be an important testbed for all public television stations to explore the potential of ATSC 3.”
Craig Fugate, former FEMA Administrator and now a member of the board of trustees of America’s Public Television Stations, said, “Public television has been reliably contributing to America’s public safety needs for decades, and they’re prepared to do more: with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, with FirstNet, and with first responder and public safety agencies across America. The recognition of the value of public television’s public safety datacasting capabilities by the FCC’s expert council on emergency alerting should further encourage public safety and first responder agencies to partner with public television stations, which can help solve many critical public safety communications challenges.”


About APTS
America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) is a nonprofit membership organization ensuring a strong and financially sound public television system and helping member stations provide essential public services in education, public safety and civic leadership to the American people. For more information, visit www.apts.org.

Stacey Karp