The following story is fiction, but could well happen.

Leanne Smith, a recently divorced mother from New York City, woke up to a busy day. She had to get her daughter Julie dressed, feed her breakfast, and get her to the bus stop for school, all before heading off to work so that she can make enough money to keep the roof over their heads.

Leanne’s ex husband Dave will be picking Julie up from school because this is his weekend with their daughter as outlined in their custody agreement. Rick will have Julie through the weekend, and it is his responsibility to get Julie to school on Monday. Leanne will see her daughter Monday afternoon. These “free” weekends for Leanne typically mean getting the house cleaned, getting caught up on laundry, and working additional overtime to meet the bills.

Late Monday morning a tired Leanne gets a phone call from the school inquiring about the absence of Julie from school. Leanne was unaware of the absence, and although she does not like speaking to her ex husband Dave, she calls his house. The message she gets is the standard telephone company bulletin informing her that the number has been disconnected. Thinking she dialed wrong, she hangs up and calls again. The same message greets her ears. With a knot in her stomach she calls Dave’s cell phone. Again, a number that is not working.

Leanne, thinking the worst leaves work and drives to the apartment where Dave is now living. She knocks on the door, then bangs on the door loudly. There is no response. An inquisitive neighbor comes out and asks what is happening. Leanne tells her that this is her ex husbands apartment, and she is looking for her daughter. The neighbor informs Leanne that the man moved out on Saturday. Leanne is crushed, and calls the police.

The police investigating determine that indeed Julie is missing, and decide to issue an Amber Alert. Terrestrial radio stations in New York and New Jersey broadcast the alert with a full description of Dave as well as Julie. People in the community reach out to Leanne offering words of encouragement and support.

At the same time, in upstate New York, Dave and Julie are at a small restaurant eating lunch. Julie thinks nothing is awry, and that she is on a surprise camping trip with her father arranged earlier in the month. Her father has told her that they will be camping by Lake George for a week. Joel Smith, another of the restaurant’s patrons, strikes up a conversation with Dave and Julie, and they talk about the wildlife that can be found in upstate New York. Joel gives them some back road directions that are far more scenic than the highway and will only add about 45 minutes to their trip. Dave humors the conversation, but is eager to leave without arising suspicion.

The kindly man Joel finishes his conversation, pays his bill and leaves the restaurant. He gets into his car and turns on the radio. Sixties music greets him, and he thinks how wonderful it is that his satellite radio has channels dedicated to various decades and genres. He leaves the parking lot drumming the steering wheel to the Beach Boys. Meanwhile, every terrestrial radio station is broadcasting Amber Alerts regarding Julie and her father Dave. Joel never hears the alerts. It is not until he arrives home that evening and watches the news that Joel realizes that he had conversed with both Dave and Julie. He calls the police, but the trail is now 6 hours old.

Three months later Julie is still missing……kidnapped by her father Dave. Leanne is distraught, and seems barely able to function. Her daughter is missing, and her life seems empty. If only there was a way to have gotten the information out faster……to a broader geographic circle, perhaps things could be different.

While again this story is fiction, it illustrates a point that needs to be made. The national Association of Broadcasters is in full support of a bill that would make Amber Alerts unavailable on satellite radio.

Does this make sense? Why would the NAB want to prohibit satellite radio from broadcasting critical public information? The answer is scary……..It is “Local” content, and according to the NAB, satellite radio can only broadcast “National” content.

When asked about the issue in an interview with Lost Remote, an NAB spokeperson showed the NAB's True Payola Crayola colors, dancing around the issue of Amber alerts and the impact the legislation would have on them.

The NAB is strongly supporting a bill, H.R. 983, the “Local Emergency Radio Service Preservation Act of 2007?. Provisions in this bill may very well block satellite radio from broadcasting Amber Alerts. This could also apply to other emergencies. Imagine a nuclear incident similar to Three Mile Island, or a release of toxins as a result of a fire in an industrial complex. Should someone listening to satellite radio be denied this information? How can the NAB take this stance? What will David Rehr say to Leanne Smith about her missing daughter?

Some issues are bigger than the NAB or satellite radio. Some issue require fast dissemination to an audience so appropriate measures or actions can be taken. However, Rehr and his Payola Crayola attitude have demonstrated that he cares about his membership far more than every day citizens.

For this reason alone, and because we can see how the NAB is posturing with regards to this bill, H.R. 983 should not be passed. We as citizens in a rapidly changing world should not support legislation that limits access to important information, or dictates from whom we get that information. If this sector concerns you, you should contact your legislators and advise them of the tactics and ramifications at play here.

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