ARRL

News Gathering & Ham Radio

FCC rules, Hams and News

In a disaster situation where the immediate safety of lives and/or property is at stake, Amateurs may provide safety-related communications to the broadcasters for dissemination to the public “where no other means of communication is reasonably available before or at the time of the event.”… So, a lack of preparation before an event does not make it “ok” when it happens.  The media needs to make reasonable efforts to be ready before the event, not simply take the “oh, we’ll just rely on the hams” approach.  Otherwise, Amateurs are prohibited from assisting in program production or news-gathering. [97.113(b)].

 

The press may retransmit your Amateur communications at any time they choose without your permission. However, except in the limited circumstances cited above, Amateur stations may not transmit information intended for retransmission by broadcast stations.

 

 

Examples:

 

A TV news crew hears an Amateur Radio operator on the air reporting a tornado sighting. 

Yes, the TV crew can use that information on the air.

If they recorded the report, they can also broadcast their copy of the ham's transmission

 

A TV news reporter wants to talk on the ham's radio and tape it for showing at 6 p.m.

No, that is not allowed by the rules.

 

A print journalist wants a ham to ask other hams on the radio about road conditions.

This would not be allowed if there are other means of communication available.