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New research finds strong support for public television as a resource for educating children & underserved populations about responding to emergencies

Findings Will Be Discussed at National Association of Broadcasters Panel on Leveraging the Public Media Broadcast System for Public Safety

Las Vegas, N.V., April 25, 2017 – New public opinion research finds the overwhelming majority of Americans see public television as an effective channel for educating children and underserved populations about responding to emergency situations like tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes or terrorist attacks. Commissioned by Eagle Hill Consulting and America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), the research finds that:

  • 91 percent of Americans believe that public television could be an effective channel to educate children about responding to emergencies.
  • 87 percent say public television could be an effective channel to educate underserved populations (including low income communities, individuals with disabilities, and rural communities) about responding to emergencies.
  • 80 percent of Americans are aware that government agencies use public television to distribute alerts during emergencies.

“Public broadcasting increasingly plays a fundamental role in keeping America safe,” says Eagle Hill’s John McCoskey. “Public broadcasting isn’t just about popular programming. Emergency agencies and law enforcement rely on the public television system to communicate with Americans during emergencies.”

“This new research tells us that Americans are aware that the public television system is an information source in crisis situations, which can be vital if other communication networks are taken down in a natural disaster or terror attack. Moreover, Americans see a growing safety role for the public television system – to educate children and underserved communities about responding to emergencies,” McCoskey explained.

America’s public television stations are committed to three essential public service missions: education, public safety and civic leadership. As the last locally-controlled media in America, public television reaches more than 98 percent of Americans. Public television stations are uniquely positioned to provide these services, not only on television but also in the classroom, online, as part of the emergency response network, and in the community.

“Public television stations are proud to partner with local law enforcement and first responder agencies to use the power of public television to ensure all Americans are safe,” said Lonna Thompson, APTS executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Emergency management agencies can use public television’s technology to communicate with one another and with the public during times of crisis. We are delighted that this new research shows the public’s trust and value of public television’s essential services, which they depend on every day.”

Public media has cultivated considerable expertise in public safety, emergency communications and spectrum management over the past decade, gaining a reputation as a trusted and reliable resource with federal agencies, commercial entities and the public.

Public television and radio stations have created effective partnerships with state and local law enforcement and federal agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to communicate with the public in crises situations. In addition, public television stations have committed 1 Mbps of their spectrum data stream to support the new federal FirstNet public safety network built for first responders to improve communications coverage, reliability and redundancy, as well as to better serve rural and underserved communities. The public television station system will complement FirstNet by providing high-speed data broadcast services used for distribution of video, images, and blueprints in emergency situations.

Both Vegas PBS and Houston Public Media are true pioneers in public safety. They have taken the decade-long promise of public safety datacasting and put it to work in their local communities. Vegas PBS has expanded and built partnerships with a wide variety of government entities to respond in emergency situations. The station also created a K-12 emergency data center that is regarded as the nation’s most comprehensive school safety training, alerting, and response system. Houston Public Media has created a powerful network of public safety and first responder organizations, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that meets both high-profile security challenges like the recent Super Bowl and the everyday requirements of keeping millions of citizens of Houston safe.

The new research findings will be discussed on Tuesday, April 25th as part of a National Association of Broadcasters panel on utilizing the public broadcast network for public safety. Moderated by Eagle Hill’s John McCoskey, the session will feature Roger Stone Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistant Administrator, for National Continuity Programs; Lonna Thompson, America’s Public Television Stations Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer & General Counsel; Tom Axtell, Vegas PBS General Manager; Lisa Trapani Shumate, Houston Public Media Associate Vice President and General Manager; and Dana Golub PBS Public Programs Senior Director.

The research was conducted by Ipsos in April 2017 as an online survey of 1004 Americans. The results were weighted to reflect U.S. demographic factors, including age, income, the four national census regions, and gender.

America’s Public Television Stations is a nonprofit membership organization ensuring a strong and financially sound public television system and helping member stations provide essential public services in education, public safety and civic leadership to the American people. For more information, visit www.apts.org.

Eagle Hill Consulting LLC is a woman-owned business that provides management consulting services in the areas of business strategy, organizational transformation, human capital transformation, process improvement, program management and change management. Eagle Hill works with a range of public, private and non-profit organizations. More information is available at www.eaglehillconsulting.com.

Media Contacts: 

Susan Nealon | 703.989.5714 | snealon@eaglehillconsulting.com | @WeAreEagleHill

Stacey Karp | 202.654.4222 | skarp@apts.org | @aptstweet