Governor Inslee Signs First Informer Broadcaster Bill
HB 1147 – the First Informer Broadcaster Bill – was signed by Governor Inslee on April 30, 2019, culminating three years of efforts by broadcasters to ensure access to transmitter and studio facilities during time of a declared emergency.
The WSAB worked with the State’s Emergency Management Division to move the bill forward, which was sponsored in the 2019 legislative session by Rep. Mike Chapman (D-24), Rep. Brad Klippert (R-8), Rep. Roger Goodman (D-45) and Sen. Sam Hunt (D-22). The bill passed through both chambers of the Washington State Legislature unanimously (House 97-0 and Senate 44-0) before reaching the Governor’s desk for signature.
“This legislation is really impactful for broadcasters,” said Janene Drafs, Chairwoman of the Board of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters. “Access to our transmitter sites and studio facilities during time of emergency allows us to broadcast important safety and recovery information to the communities we serve across the state of Washington.”
“On behalf of the 260 commercial and non-commercial radio and television stations across the state, we appreciate the support of our state legislators and the Governor in passing HB 1147,” said Keith Shipman, President & CEO of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters. “We’re pleased to become the 11th state in America to pass such legislation. We also wish to acknowledge the great work of Mark Allen of Mark Allen Government Relations for navigating the legislative process and broadcast engineers Keith Nealey of KIRO-TV and Marty Hadfield (retired) for offering testimony during public hearings on this issue.”
The First Informer Broadcaster bill was designed to allow broadcast technicians who have registered with the Washington Business Re-Entry System (https://mil.wa.gov/emergency-management-division/business-re-entry-registration) access to their studio and transmitter facilities in order to restore broadcast operations and disseminate safety and recovery information to listeners and viewers.
A First Informer Broadcaster is defined as “an individual who is employed by, or acting pursuant to a contract under the direction of a broadcaster; and maintains, including repairing and resupplying, transmitters, generators, or other essential equipment at a broadcast station or facility or provides technical support services to broadcasters needed during a period of proclaimed emergency.”
Broadcasters must still follow the direction of incident commanders as it relates to safety issues in declared emergency zones. Key language in the bill prohibits authorities from confiscating resources – fuel, food, water and other essential materials - brought to the site by a First Informer Broadcaster.
Broadcast engineers and technicians are encouraged to register through the aforementioned link to become a First Informer Broadcaster. Once registered, the engineer/technician will receive a registration card via email.