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SB353 SUB1 Senate Bill 353 History

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Senate Bill No. 353

(By Senator Unger)


[Originating in the Committee on Government Organization;

reported March 13, 2013.]




A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §15-5C-1, §15-5C-2, §15-5C-3 and §15-5C-4, all relating to establishing the First Informer Broadcasters Act; defining terms; permitting broadcasters to develop plans for preparing and responding to emergencies and disasters; permitting broadcasters to train and certify certain personnel to be first informer broadcasters; setting forth what training and certification plans must contain; and requiring, to the extent practicable, government agencies to allow first emergency broadcasters access to emergency areas to repair equipment critical to their emergency broadcasting responsibilities.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §15-5C-1, §15-5C-2, §15-5C-3 and §15-5C-4, all to read as follows:


§15-5C-1. Short title.

    This article may be cited as the “First Informer Broadcasters Act.”

§15-5C-2. Definitions.

    "Broadcaster" means an FCC-licensed radio or television broadcasting station or cable television system primarily engaged in, and deriving income from, the business of facilitating speech via over-the-air communications, both as to pure speech and commercial speech.

    "First informer broadcaster" means a person who has been certified as a first informer broadcaster pursuant to section four of this article.

§15-5C-3. Broadcasters; comprehensive plans.

    Broadcasters in this state may, in cooperation with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the West Virginia Broadcasters Association, or its successor organization, develop comprehensive, coordinated plans for preparing for and responding appropriately to an emergency or disaster.

§15-5C-4. First informer broadcasters; training; certification.

    (a) Any statewide organization, or any member of a statewide organization, that represents broadcasters, cable television communications or any other provider that uses emerging technologies may establish a program for training and certifying broadcast engineers and technical personnel as first informer broadcasters. Each program established pursuant to this subsection must:

    (1) Be consistent with federal law and guidelines; 

    (2) Provide training and education concerning restoring, repairing and resupplying any facilities and equipment of a broadcaster in an area affected by an emergency or disaster; and

    (3) Provide training and education concerning the personal safety of a first informer broadcaster in an area affected by an emergency or disaster.

    (b) To the extent practicable and consistent with not endangering public safety or inhibiting recovery efforts, state and local governmental agencies shall allow a first informer broadcaster access to an area affected by an emergency or disaster for the purpose of restoring, repairing or resupplying any facility or equipment critical to the ability of a broadcaster to acquire, produce and transmit essential emergency- or disaster-related public information programming, including, without limitation, repairing and maintaining transmitters and generators and transporting fuel for generators.

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