Urgent: DHS Site Access Letters for Michigan Broadcasters
Very important email from the MAB. Watch the underlined sentence
that explains that local law does not have to honor these letters.
-------- Forwarded Message --------
March 19, 2020
What a time for our industry to shine. Thank you for the terrific job you are doing to make this terrible situation better for the Michigan Public through your local coverage of the Coronavirus.
IMPORTANT: Attached are two letters from the Department of Homeland Security's Cyber-Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) which are meant for you to facilitate access to your studios and transmitters if there are more government mandated closures due to Covid-19. Road closures could be ordered and large area of your community quarantined. One letter addresses access, the other letter addresses fuel. Please only share these letters with key personnel who may use them in the line of duty in keeping the station on the air and to get messages out about the ongoing health crisis.
Please also be aware of a federal law that allows broadcasters on-going access to their facilities. 42 U.S.C. § 5189e (a)(1)(A)(i) and (b) defines broadcasters as "essential service providers". The statute allows essential service providers access to their places of operation in order to "respond to an emergency or major disaster". This means that essential station personnel and only essential personnel required to keep the station on the air and information flowing should be allowed access to their studios, transmitters, towers, and other places of business for purposes of communicating with the public. This however is a federal level law. Local law enforcement does not have to honor these letters or the federal law. The MAB is working with the Governor’s office, MSP and The Michigan Association of Emergency Managers to ratify the Essential Service Provider designation for broadcasters here in Michigan.
We recommend that, essential personnel carry station identification with them. If asked, they should say they are a broadcast employee traveling to the station, which is an essential service provider under federal law and which is required to provide EAS information to the public. They can also display the attached letters. We also recommend that stations stay in contact with local Emergency Management Directors and send them a copy of the Homeland Security letters as soon as you can.
The MAB has a Michigan specific webpage on Coronavirus for members. It has state resources, PSA’s, social media posts and story ideas that you may use in your local coverage of COVID 19 showing the wonderful things neighbors and businesses are doing to help one another. Visit http://michmab.com
Please send your special coverage on COVID-19 to us. Send copies of your TV and Radio coverage, photos and news releases on Coronavirus. We need all we can get to show how responsive you have been to this state emergency.
In the coming weeks, with the help of Michigan’s top State Associations we are launching a section on our COVID-19 webpage containing story ideas from around the state of how people are helping people, how companies are standing behind their employees and business is surviving while helping others. We hope this will help to change the narrative so their will be more confidence in the economy coming out of our current emergency which will not only help the economy recover faster but will help to bring back our own business.