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Illinois' 'First Informer Broadcasters Act' Signed Into Law

Earlier today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a bill HB5528, which gives Illinois radio, television, and cable operators rights and abilities during times of disasters. Broadcasters' key employees will now have the necessary emergency credentials to gain access to their studios or transmitter facilities, even if authorities have closed down roads and/or areas in a crisis. The law also allows for the delivery of fuel and repair items necessary to power the broadcast facilities' transmitters and emergency generators.

The new law is effective immediately.

The HB5528 bill was first introduced in the Illinois House by Representative John E. Bradley on February 15, 2012. It was subsequently sponsored by Senators Antonio Munoz and Kirk Dillard in the Illinois Senate. It was immediately championed by Dennis Lyle, President and CEO of the Illinois Broadcasters Association (IBA).

On March 27, 2012, the bill was passed in the Illinois House of Representatives by a vote of 114-0. On January 3, 2013, the bill was passed in the Illinois Senate by a vote of 50-0. Unanimous votes from both state houses. Five days later, it was sent to the Governor's office to be signed in to law. Almost one year after bill HB5528 began, Governor Quinn today made that bill state law.

The "First Informer Broadcasters Act" is now officially law #430 ILCS 170/.

Illinois is only the second state in the country, after Nevada, to pass such a bill into law.

The IBA's Dennis Lyle said today "The governor's support in signing the bill confirms the spirit of cooperation, mutual respect, and great working relationship that already exists between local broadcasters and Illinois' Emergency Management and Law Enforcement agencies."

Lyle added "Illinois' brave first responders have always known they can depend on their dedicated local broadcasters to assist them in disseminating critical information to the masses, regardless the disaster or emergency. This legislation assures our broadcasters can keep generators fueled, and stations operational, in times of disasters, allowing them to do what they best; keeping the public informed."

The next step in this process is for the IBA to work hand-in-hand with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to create a training curriculum for emergency broadcasting situations. Once approved, broadcast personnel and cable operators will have to study and complete the new curriculum before being awarded these emergency credentials.

On a national scale, the Federal Communications Committee also tries to help with the delivery of fuel to broadcast generators in times of emergency.

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