“Downright absurd!”.. REC tells the FCC “no” to mandatory DIRS and NORS reporting by broadcasters

The FCC has two different systems that are used for network resiliency. 

DIRS (Disaster Information Reporting System) is a system that is activated in a specific geographic area whenever the FCC declares that an area has had a major disaster such as a hurricane or massive wildfire.  DIRS allows wireless providers, wireline telephone companies, broadband providers, cable TV providers (MVPDs) and broadcasters to report whether their facilities are operating or not.  Reporting to DIRS by broadcasters is currently voluntary.  Information from DIRS filings is made public through a daily “dashboard” document during the emergency.  REC supports DIRS through communicating activations on our various sites and we support voluntary participation when the system is activated.

NORS (Network Outage Reporting System) is used by telecommunications providers (wireline and wireless), cable, satellite, interconnected Voice over IP (VoIP) and Signaling System (SS7) providers.  It has never been used by radio or TV broadcast stations.  NORS is used to report any kind of a network outage that is not in a disaster area where DIRS would be used instead.  Unlike DIRS, the data from NORS is kept confidential.

On January 25, 2024, the FCC adopted the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in PS Docket 21-346 (PS Dkt. 15-80, & ET Dkt. 04-35), the Resilient Networks proceeding.   In this proceeding, the FCC had proposed to require broadcasters to report in DIRS on a mandatory basis instead of voluntary.  In addition, the Commission had proposed to require broadcast stations to also report outages (outside of a disaster area) into NORS, thus making it the first time that broadcasters have ever had to use that system.

REC Networks has been following this proceeding and did file in an earlier proceeding on this subject with concerns over mandatory reporting by LPFM and other small stations.

In comments filed with the FCC for May 13, 2023, REC Networks reached the following positions:

Small stations

First, to answer the question of what constitutes a “small station”, REC has defined it as:

  • Any LPFM broadcast station.
  • Any LPTV station that originates programming.
  • Class A television stations.
  • Class A and D noncommercial educational FM stations.
  • Class A commercial FM stations.
  • Class C AM broadcast stations.
  • Class D AM broadcast stations with a daytime power of 1kW or less.
  • FM and TV translators including digital replacement translators used in TV.
  • FM booster stations.


REC has opposed any requirement by broadcast stations to use NORS stating that broadcast stations are not in any way similar to telecom providers as they do not provide two-way communications nor provide access to 9-1-1.  REC also points out that unlike existing NORS users, broadcast stations do not always operate 24/7 and due to the minimum operating schedule rules that exist for each radio and TV service, stations do not have to get advance permission to operate less than 24 hours as long as they adhere to the minimum hours. 

REC notes that any kind of “outage” may need to be reported through NORS including:

  • Power outages at the transmitter or studio site.
  • A loss in programming source (bad internet connection, disruption of network source, automation software crash, human error affecting the audio chain (i.e. pulling the plug) or any kind of “dead air” incident).
  • Any disruption to EAS including software updates, loss of a monitoring source or loss of internet connectivity to receive IPAWS.
  • Any intentional shut down of the transmitter such as opting to operate less than 24/7.

REC notes that small stations simply do not have the resources and 24 hour on-call surveillance in order to report an “outage” within a time period that would be determined by the Commission.  REC stated that downtime should not be considered an “outage” unless the condition lasts for 24 consecutive hours. 

Overall, REC considers any mandate for broadcasters to use NORS as “downright absurd”.


While REC supports voluntary DIRS reporting, we have made our opposition to mandatory reporting, especially among small stations, including LPFM stations.  Small stations have limited resources and need to be focused on providing support for the listeners instead of having to battle internet issues to file government forms.  We also focused on the unique needs of LPFM stations, which are required to have a local presence, stating that if the internet goes down in the area for the station, chances are it is down for those who support the station.  Unlike large national broadcast companies, LPFM stations do not have the convenience of “network operations center” in locations well outside the disaster area that can provide this mandatory reporting. 

REC also states that the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau needs to improve their outreach to make more stations aware of DIRS and to improve their notification of activations through the addition of application programming interfaces (APIs).  REC also notes that the Commission should develop an API to accept voluntary DIRS reports, which will allow for applications (including open-source software) that can be used to automate DIRS reporting during a disaster. 

As a concession, REC states that if a DIRS mandate for broadcasting is absolutely necessary, it should be limited to the most critical radio stations; those that listed on EAS state plans with the following roles:

  • Primary Entry Point (PEP);
  • National Primary (NP);
  • State Primary (SP);
  • State Relay (SR); and
  • Local Primary (LP).

All other stations, including all LPFM stations are considered Participating National (PN) and should not be required to make mandatory DIRS reporting, only voluntary reporting.

Reply comments in PS Docket 21-346, PS Docket 15-80 and ET Docket 04-35 are due on June 12, 2024.