Radio News: Community radio stations push back on cybersecurity improvement mandate

Jan 23, 2023 11:40 pm

Paul McLane at Radio World reports that a lobbying group for community radio stations does not want the Federal Communications Commission to mandate that the mostly small stations take extreme cybersecurity defensive measure to prevent the next Joni Mitchell song to be interrupted by propaganda from Russia or pornography. “Any effort by the commission to impose mandatory cybersecurity requirements on community [community] NCE radio stations in this proceeding would have the inevitable impact of diverting already severely limited resources away from the core mission of serving their communities,” wrote Sally Kane, chief executive officer of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, in comments to the FCC. Extensive cybersecurity risk management, reporting, and infrastructure improvements could cost too much in money and labor for small stations run by tiny staffs. The FCC's interest in the issue mostly concerns the nationwide Emergency Alert System, or EAS. That system allows one government message to be broadcast on many stations live at once to quickly pass on emergency information such as tornado alerts. FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said of the proposal to mandate cybersecurity upgrades that, “This effort will help ensure the function of these essential systems in emergencies and that the public can trust the warnings they receive." The commission will need to weigh the importance of that issue with the cost to the stations. “Community radio’s role is to educate, inform and entertain the public. Its role is not to anticipate or investigate criminal activity leveraged against it or its systems,” Kane said. “That is the role of government, law enforcement, and legal professionals. It is an undue burden to require this of NCEs.”