First Informer Broadcaster – Signed and Delivered!

Jim Dalke, CPBE, Editor – After three years of efforts by Washington Broadcasters to ensure access to transmitter and studio facilities during disasters, Governor Inslee has signed the “First Informer Broadcaster Bill.”

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.”

Keith Shipman, President & CEO of the WSAB said “We’re pleased to become the 11th state in America to pass such legislation.”  Shipman also credited Mark Allen of Mark Allen Government Relations for navigating the legislative process and broadcast engineers Keith Nealey of KIRO-TV and Marty Hadfield for offering testimony during public hearings on this issue.

The First Informer Broadcaster legislation is designed to allow broadcast technicians who have registered with the Washington Business Re-Entry System 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 at .  Once registered and approved, the applicant receive a registration card via email.

The legislation is similar to the Oregon State First Informer Bill that was passed in 2015

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3 comments for “First Informer Broadcaster – Signed and Delivered!

  1. May 1, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Keith Shipman deserves twice the thanks since he was integral in getting it done in Oregon, first, with Bill Johnstone. This is an effort that has been discussed among all of you and at the WSAB board level since Katrina (over 11 years ago!), and it was the dogged handful like Arthur, Clay, Mark, Keith, Bill and others who prioritized it and got it done. The WSAB board and OAB boards also deserve credit along with the SBE for prioritizing this initiative in order to give their leaders the authority to march. Law enforcement types were initially resistant, and this was truly a broad group effort.
    Andrew Skotdal

  2. May 1, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Andy, I will second that recommendation to applause the undying efforts of Mark Allen and Keith Shipman. Their focused guidance made all the difference in the world.
    It was nearly a year and a half year ago that I sat with Mark and Keith, and provided passionate verbal testimony to Senator Sam Hunt, Sponsor of SB 6056, giving a technical “boots on the ground” perspective of my Katrina/Rita Hurricane and other disaster incident response experiences. This was provided on behalf of all Radio Broadcast Engineers in Washington State – describing the basis for needing unfettered access to the studios and various transmission sites that are critical to providing broadcast information to the general public in the confusing times surrounding a disaster and recovery effort. No other industry has proven to provide better reach to those directly impacted citizens than Broadcasting. Period.
    Subsequent to that meeting, I’m happy to say that my colleague, Keith Nealey, provided his supporting testimony on behalf of the Television Engineers across Washington State.
    It was a great team effort and I know we are all proud of the results and positive implications for maintaining a strong on-air broadcast presence whenever disasters may strike in Washington.
    Marty Hadfield, CPBE
    ABIP Inspector
    SBE Chapter 16 Board of Directors

  3. Arthur Willetts
    May 1, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    I’m glad to see the fruition of this legislation from its beginning 3 years ago, when Clay Freinwald and I got in touch with SBE Chapter 124 in Oregon and began the process. I give a big Thank you to the current WSAB/OAB president Keith Shipman and former WSAB president Mark Allen for all their hard work! And of course, thanks to concerned SBE Chapter 16 members and local broadcasters who have supported this legislation.
    I’m registered! I encourage all who need to get to stations and transmitters in a time of disaster to do the same now and not waiting until the emergency to happen first. This will assist in ensuring that beneficial safety information can continue to be broadcasted to those affected.
    Arthur Willetts
    SBE Chapter 16 Member #22201

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